A San Francisco Superior Court judge has found that Ray Graham III maliciously prosecuted the Sierra Club Foundation and owes the organization $2.8 million.
judgment, made in mid-July, is the latest wrinkle in the
long-standing feud between Graham, an heir to the Firestone
fortune, and the foundation over a $100,000 donation he made back
in 1971. The money was intended to buy grazing lands in northern
New Mexico for Hispanic ranchers, but was never spent for that
purpose (HCN, 6/9/97).
Graham brought a lawsuit
against the Sierra Club Foundation in 1989, claiming it
intentionally misused his donation. He lost the case, but the
Sierra Club Foundation countered last year with a malicious
prosecution lawsuit, claiming Graham agreed to give the money with
no strings attached and that he was bent on smearing the Club's
reputation. On July 17, Judge John Munter agreed with the
foundation and awarded it $800,000 in compensatory damages and $2
million in punitive damages.
"Every time Graham's
claims have been submitted to a jury or judge, he's lost," says
Peter Adang, the Sierra Club Foundation's attorney. "I would hope
that he would put the matter behind him now and get on with his
Graham says he will appeal the decision.
- Paul Larmer