An Orange County jury on Tuesday ordered a banking executive to pay his ex-wife $5,284 to cover medical expenses incurred as the result of a violent altercation between the pair.
The small judgment, including no punitive damages, returned in Superior Court in Santa Ana was seen by lawyers on both sides as a victory for defendant Jack Barnes, 49, who led the financial recovery of Mission Viejo National Bank before his departure last year. He is now president and chief executive officer of Mission Valley Bank in San Clemente.
Barnes was sued by his former wife, Margee Barnes, 49, who claimed that, shortly after the couple decided to separate, she suffered a black eye, a damaged tooth and other injuries in a July 22, 1986, beating by Barnes at their Mission Viejo home.
Barnes could not be reached for comment on the verdict, but his lawyer, Kevin E. Gallagher, said, “The jury by its verdict has clearly concluded that these were unintentional injuries suffered in a scuffle.”
Ex-wife Margee Adams, now living in La Habra, said: “I’m very disappointed because I believe they should have brought in punitive damages. They must have found this wasn’t intentional, but I know he was trying to beat me up so I wouldn’t be able to retrieve my things from the house.”
Criminal assault charges filed against Barnes after the altercation were dismissed.
The civil verdict ended a weeklong trial before Judge Richard N. Parslow that one observer likened to a soap opera. Added another participant, attorney Gallagher: “These parties really, really hate each other. I’ve never seen such animosity.”