This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A jury this week awarded about $336,000 in damages and restitution to Nu Skin after the multilevel marketing company sued a former employee over allegedly stolen personal care products.
Nu Skin claimed in its 4th District Court lawsuit that Scott Lazerson duped Nu Skin workers into giving him excess, expired or damaged products for his charity, which would then provide them to needy people in foreign countries.
But instead of using the products for charitable purposes, Nu Skin claimed, Lazerson and two others sold much of the product over the Internet and used some of the proceeds for personal expenses.
Lazerson countersued, saying Nu Skin employees gave him "dump stuff" that was going to be thrown away; it also says he told them some of it would be used by his charity. Nu Skin managers who learned of the donations allegedly set up Lazerson and two others to make it appear that they were stealing products and then called Provo police, Lazerson claimed.
Lazerson was arrested and charged with theft, along with former Miss Utah Elizabeth Craig and her business partner Brady Harper. Those charges were eventually dismissed against all three.
Nu Skin, Craig and Harper reached a settlement on the company's lawsuit against them, though the terms were not disclosed.
After the three-week civil trial involving Lazerson, jurors on Tuesday found he was "unjustly enriched" by his dealings with Nu Skin; the panel awarded the company $86,740.
The jury also awarded Nu Skin $125,000 after finding Lazerson was liable for fraud, and another $125,000 after finding he was liable for negligent misrepresentation. But jurors declined to order punitive damages.
Nu Skin said it was pleased with the jury's verdict.
"Our goal all along has been to make sure the profits from the sale of the products go to a legitimate charity," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "This ruling ensures that the funds will be used for their original intent, which is to help women and children in need."
Lazerson's attorney Marcus Mumford said he doesn't view the verdict as a decision on the merits of the case.
"The judge inexplicably closed evidence three days early and limited Lazerson's testimony to one hour, which not only prevented Lazerson from presenting evidence of his damages, but also is evidence of his lifetime of philanthropic and humanitarian endeavors," he said.
Mumford also said the jury was instructed not to view the dismissal of the criminal charges against Lazerson "in his favor" and said that dismissal gives rise to possible new legal claims against the company and Provo police.
Earlier this month, Craig's attorney argued before the Utah Supreme Court that her lawsuit against Provo police for her alleged wrongful arrest should not be derailed on a technicality.
Tossing out the case over a court fee would set an unfair precedent for people who want to try to hold governments accountable for their mistakes, her attorneys said.
But lawyers for Provo, the city that employs the officers, said there are specific rules for lawsuits filed against governments, and a missed $300 fee should end the one-time beauty queen's case.
Theft and other charges were dropped in December 2010, but Craig says media interest in the case nevertheless derailed her budding career as a motivational speaker and cost her thousands of dollars in legal fees.
A lawsuit Craig filed against the city in federal court was dismissed.
The state court lawsuit turns on whether Provo's status as a government entity makes it immune from a law that gives plaintiffs like Craig more time to sue.