IBJNews

Trial starts in nanny's suit against Pacers owner

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A nanny who worked for Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon and his wife testified in a wrongful-firing case Monday that the couple knew of her tumultuous life, court cases against her and a brief stint in jail but decided to keep her on their staff.

Claudia Liete claims the Simons fired her in February 2010 when they found out she was pregnant and they failed to pay wages that were due to her. She's seeking compensatory and punitive damages but has not specified an amount.

The Simons contend they fired Liete because she was in conflict with another member of the household staff and caused dissension in the home, according to their attorney. They claim they never knew about her history of violent episodes until she sued.

Liete testified that Simon's wife, Bui, said she didn't care about problems the nanny was having with boyfriends and a husband, and that Herb Simon once told her during a conversation about the problems: "Bad boyfriends, bad boyfriends, Claudia."

Liete denied an allegation by the Simons' attorney, Patricia Glaser, that she once took the couple's young daughter home with her and had her sleep in the same bed with Liete and her boyfriend, and that they had sex while the child was present.

Liete acknowledged that she took the Simons' child to her home between 20 and 40 times while she worked for them and said the Simons were aware that she was living with a boyfriend. Liete worked at the Simons' homes in Malibu and Montecito, Calif.

The testimony came at the beginning of a trial before Superior Court Judge Amy D. Hogue, who will decide after initial testimony whether the Simons knew of the nanny's background and, if not, whether they would have fired her if they had that information.

The nanny repeatedly said she told the Simons of restraining orders against her by her ex-husband and a boyfriend and that she had been charged with spousal abuse after an incident in which she fell through a glass coffee table and wound up in a hospital.

Neither the Simons nor their children, now 2, 7 and 11, were present when any of the incidents occurred.

"How often did you discuss with Bui Simon that you had two restraining orders for violent behavior?" Glaser asked.

"Many times," Liete said.

She then testified that she and Bui Simon had many personal talks about their lives.

"I said I had very bad choices of men in my life and I wished it hadn't happened," Liete said. "We talked of many things. I told her about my days in jail."

Bui Simon, seated in the courtroom and holding hands with her husband, shook her head negatively as the former nanny testified.

In a dramatic incident outside court, Bui Simon, a 1988 Miss Universe from Thailand, wound up directing CPR efforts in the hallway when a lawyer from another case collapsed from an apparent heart attack.

She corralled another lawyer to administer CPR while she gave specific instructions on the procedure and urged him on until medical personnel arrived. In spite of the efforts, she said court security later informed her that the man died.

Bui Simon burst into tears after the incident. She said she takes CPR training once a year because she has children.

She later returned to the courtroom and testimony continued.

After Liete left the stand, her ex-husband, John O'Connell, testified that during their brief marriage she threatened his life and those of his four cats and he was forced to flee with the animals in fear. He said Liete told him that she once punched a co-worker in the face and that she wanted to kill someone who owed her $5. He said he obtained a restraining order, which she violated, and at one point, police were called during a fight.

The lawsuit also involves a former chauffeur's claims against the Simons, but his portion of the case will not be heard until after a jury is chosen, according to lawyers.

Herb Simon, 75, has a net worth of $1.4 billion, according to Forbes. His family founded Simon Property Group, a shopping mall company headquartered in the Indianapolis area. The couple also has a home there.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Can your dog sign a marriage license or personally state that he wishes to join you in a legal union? If not then no, you cannot marry him. When you teach him to read, write, and speak a discernible language, then maybe you'll have a reasonable argument. Thanks for playing!

  2. Look no further than Mike Rowe, the former host of dirty jobs, who was also a classically trained singer.

  3. Current law states income taxes are paid to the county of residence not county of income source. The most likely scenario would be some alteration of the income tax distribution formula so money earned in Marion co. would go to Marion Co by residents of other counties would partially be distributed to Marion co. as opposed to now where the entirety is held by the resident's county.

  4. This is more same-old, same-old from a new generation of non-progressive 'progressives and fear mongers. One only needs to look at the economic havoc being experienced in California to understand the effect of drought on economies and people's lives. The same mindset in California turned a blind eye to the growth of population and water needs in California, defeating proposal after proposal to build reservoirs, improve water storage and delivery infrastructure...and the price now being paid for putting the demands of a raucous minority ahead of the needs of many. Some people never, never learn..

  5. I wonder if I can marry him too? Considering we are both males, wouldn't that be a same sex marriage as well? If they don't honor it, I'll scream discrimination just like all these people have....

ADVERTISEMENT