Alexander v. StibalAnnotate this Case
Kara Alexander sued Vianna Stibal for fraud, breach of contract, and punitive damages. A jury awarded Alexander $111,000 on her contract claim, $17,000 on the fraud claim, and $500,000 in punitive damages. Stibal is the owner and operator of Nature Path, Inc. and the ThetaHealing Institute of Knowledge (THInK). In the beginning of 2008, THInK announced that it would offer a newly-created doctoral degree in ThetaHealing. students of ThetaHealing, including Alexander, began to question the validity of her doctoral degrees. In November of 2011, Alexander filed a complaint against Stibal, alleging breach of contract and fraud. During the trial, the district court denied Stibal’s motion for a directed verdict on the fraud and breach of contract claims. Following trial, Stibal moved for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV). The district court denied these post-trial motions, but reduced the punitive damages award to $384,000. On appeal, Stibal challenges the district court’s rulings on the contract, fraud, and punitive damages issues. After review, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order denying Stibal’s motion for JNOV on the contract claim. The Court vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded with directions for the district court to enter a new judgment reflecting our ruling on the contract claim and the reduction in punitive damages to $100,000. The Court affirmed in all other respects.