WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Billionaire financier Ron Perelman won $604.3 million in compensatory damages yesterday in his lawsuit accusing the investment firm Morgan Stanley of duping him into believing a company was financially successful.
The jury said it found evidence that Perelman, the Revlon cosmetics chief, relied on false statements that Sunbeam Corp. was a turnaround success and could afford to acquire his camping equipment company, Coleman.
Sunbeam filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001 after its financial troubles were discovered, and Perelman alleged he had millions in losses because stock he received in the deal plunged in value. His lawsuit is also seeking $2 billion in punitive damages, which the jury will consider over the next few days.
''We're obviously very pleased by the jury's decision," Perelman's company said in a statement.
Morgan Stanley vowed to appeal the verdict, blaming Judge Elizabeth Maass for issuing a default judgment in which she told the jury that Morgan Stanley helped Sunbeam, an investment banking client, defraud investors. Because of that judgment, Perelman only had to prove that he was swayed into making his decisions regarding the Coleman sale by Morgan Stanley's advice.
''Far from being part of the Sunbeam fraud, Morgan Stanley was a victim of that fraud, losing $300 million when Sunbeam collapsed, one of the many true facts that the jury was not allowed to hear," Morgan Stanley said in a statement.
Shares of Morgan Stanley rose 58 cents to close at $48.80 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.