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Judge tosses wrongful-firing suit against Pacers owner

September 14, 2011

A lawsuit by a nanny and a chauffeur against Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon and his wife has ended with a judge's written ruling confirming her previous oral decision that the employees failed to prove their claims of mistreatment.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy Hogue had nothing but praise for Simon's former beauty queen wife, Bui, and said the couple were extremely generous and kind to their employees.

The nanny, Claudia Leite, claimed she was fired because she became pregnant. The chauffeur said he was not paid for overtime and denied rest breaks.

The judge said she didn't believe much of the testimony of either one.

She noted that Bui Simon, a former Miss Universe from Thailand, loves children and has no anti-pregnancy feelings. The judge said chauffeur Robert Young filed no claim for overtime until the lawsuit was filed and his claims that he was forced to spend unpaid hours searching Los Angeles for newspapers his boss wanted to read was not credible.

The decision was tentative, allowing lawyers to file objections within 30 days.

The judge's decision faulted Leite's testimony about alleged mistreatment as not credible.

"Leite's efforts to paint Mrs. Simon as a Jekyll and Hyde personality contradicts the extensive evidence of Mrs. Simon's calm demeanor and her patience, loyalty and generosity over her long relationship with Leite," the judge wrote.

In her 60-page ruling, the judge summarized details of three weeks of testimony, pointing out contradictions and unsubstantiated accusations against the Simons.

In her earlier oral ruling, the judge said, "I can't remember a case with so much impeaching testimony and things that didn't make sense. It's astounding."

Simon, a billionaire ranked as one of the richest men in the world, sat through every day of the three-week trial, often holding his wife's hand. Their lawyer, Patricia Glaser, had refused to settle the case at the insistence of her clients who wanted to prove they were being wrongly accused.

The case offered insight into the lifestyle of a super-rich family with several homes and a private jet. Simon's family founded the Indiana-based Simon Property Group. According to Forbes, his net worth is $1.4 billion. Simon, 75, and his 42-year-old wife have homes in Malibu, Santa Barbara and Indiana.

Suits by two other Simon household employees who have wage complaints are awaiting trial.

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