Rapper 50 Cent is on the hook for a lot of dollars.
Jurors in a civil suit against the entertainer by a Florida mom who says he humiliated her by posting a sex tape of her online deliberated for over an hour on Friday before socking him with a $5 million verdict — and he may have to pay many millions more.
The mom, Lastonia Leviston, broke down in tears while clutching the hand of her lawyer’s wife as the jury returned their verdict against the rapper – $2.5 million in damages for violating her civil rights for using her image without her permission, and $2.5 million for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Those figures could be multiplied next week, when the jury weighs punitive damages against the “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” star.
The rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, didn’t show up to testify at the trial, which started June 15th, and he wasn’t in court for the verdict. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Paul Wooten told the jurors they were allowed to take note of his absence — which was made even more notable because he was in New York at the time, celebrating his 40th birthday.
The judge ordered Fitty’s lawyers to turn over his financial net worth statements and his tax returns for the last five years to help the jury decide next week how large the punitive damages award should be. The “Candy Shop” rapper might also have to testify about his finances.
Wooten told jurors the amount of punitive damages can be large enough that it not only punishes the filthy rich Fitty, but deters others “from indulging in similar conduct in the future.”
The superstar — who has his own record label and several lucrative endorsement deals, in addition to his successful rapping and acting careers — has a net worth that’s been estimated to be between $150 to $500 million.
In his closing argument, Leviston’s lawyer, Philip Freidin, had urged the panel of four women and two men to hit the rapper with a $20 million judgment for his humiliation of the mother of two.
He said that Fitty had used the video as a tool to drive up his web traffic by dissing rival rapper Rick Ross, who fathered a daughter with Leviston.
Jackson had doctored the tape of Leviston and a former boyfriend named Maurice Murray by superimposing his own character “Pimpin’ Curly” in the video while giving an expletive laced narration of the action, referring to Leviston as a “bitch” and a “ho” and describing her body parts in crude detail. He ends the tape by telling Leviston, “You a motherfucking porn star now.”