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.

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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