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LOS ANGELES : Wife Ordered to Pay $12.5 Million in Child Stealing

A man whose ex-wife took their daughter to France and did not return has been awarded nearly $12.5 million in damages, an amount his lawyer said was the “largest verdict for child stealing in the country.”

The award was made to Shing Loong (David) Wang, 40, and included $9.8 million in general damages, $2.5 million in punitive damages and $124,000 in special damages because of Wang’s deteriorated health and legal costs stemming from a case that pitted French and American courts against each other.

Wang’s lawyer, J. Michael Kelly, contended during a two-day trial that Wang’s ex-wife, Sylvaine Marie Collet, fled to her homeland five years ago with the couple’s daughter despite a California court order giving her husband joint custody of the child and visitation rights.

A French court subsequently cited Wang for abandonment of his family and gave sole custody of the child to Collet, an arrangement not recognized in California. Kelley said a $400,000 home belonging to Collet has been seized as part of the award, but added that collection of the rest of the money may require further legal action.

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Collet’s lawyer, Stephen Kahn, said he has not decided whether to appeal the award. The couple’s child remains with her mother in Paris.


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