America’s Most Expensive Sibling Spat Hits $7 Billion

A 20-year dispute between five brothers over their family’s fortune and real estate assets has finally come to an end in a California courtroom. Shashikant Jogani, who initiated the lawsuit in 2003, accused his brother Haresh of not living up to an oral agreement between the two of them and their other three siblings, Rajesh, Chetan, and Shailesh. The Jogani brothers inherited their wealth from their father, an Indian diamond merchant.

The disagreement between the brothers began when Haresh, who was working in the family’s diamond business in India and Israel, offered to come to California and help Shashikant with his struggling business. Haresh eventually grew their joint portfolio to over 170 apartment buildings with 17,000 units, mostly in the San Fernando Valley. Despite their success, no written contract was signed between the brothers.

In 2001, Shashikant was fired from the business after he attempted to transfer a property deed to himself, claiming he was a 50% partner in Haresh’s company. This sparked the 20-year-long legal battle, in which the brothers have been arguing over money and real estate assets. Over the years, the case has gone through numerous legal twists and turns, with multiple claims being filed by four of Haresh’s brothers.

In the recent five-month-long trial, the court ruled in favor of Shashikant, awarding him and his brothers $7 billion in damages and property interests. The judge is set to hold further hearings to determine if the siblings are entitled to punitive damages as well. According to Peter Ross, the attorney representing Rajesh and Chetan Jogani, the total amount owed may increase even further.

The Jogani brothers have grown into one of the largest landlords in the San Fernando Valley, with their properties valued at over $6 billion. The properties are controlled by various companies, including Haresh’s JK Residential Services. The brothers’ oral agreement, allegedly made in 1995, stated that Haresh would give 50% of the profits to Shashikant after they had recovered their principal investments with an additional 12%.

Despite the absence of a written contract, the jury found the oral agreement to be valid and ordered Haresh to share the profits with his brothers.

Shashikant received the largest portion of the settlement with 50% of the family’s real estate assets and $1.8 billion in damages. Rajesh and Chetan were awarded $750 million in damages and $1 billion in property interests each, while Shailesh received $570 million and a 9.5% stake in the business.

The trial was not without its own set of controversies, including allegations of juror misconduct and a motion to disqualify the judge on the grounds of racial animus. However, the jurors remained steadfast and delivered their decision in favor of the plaintiffs.

In a statement, Ross expressed gratitude to the jurors for their decision, stating that it brings an end to the long-standing feud between the brothers. Shashikant and his son Michael, who also represented him in the case, expressed relief that justice had been served.

Haresh’s attorney, on the other hand, declined to comment on the ruling, stating that they will do so once the punitive damages and motion against the judge have been determined. The outcome of this case serves as a reminder of the importance of having written contracts in business dealings and the potential consequences of breaking oral agreements.

Daily Mail