Saudi Prince Wins $3M from Irving’s Youtoo Media
By Natalie Posgate
Throughout the years of his commercial litigation career, Mike Lynn has represented many clients considered corporate royalty – billionaires T. Boone Pickens and Energy Transfers’ Kelcy Warren, to name a couple.
But never did he think he’d have the opportunity to score a win for actual royalty.
That changed Thursday when a Dallas federal jury ruled unanimously that an Irving-based interactive television company breached a business agreement with a Saudi prince by failing to repay a down payment and loan that was required in their contract.
In a unanimous verdict, five women and three men ordered Youtoo Media and its general partner, Christopher Wyatt, to pay more than $3 million to Prince Mansour Bin Abdullah Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for his lost investment. The court also tossed a $6 million counterclaim the prince’s courtroom opponents brought against him.
“I bet on justice and the American system. I trusted that I would be treated here fairly and that is what happened, Prince Mansour told The Texas Lawbook in an exclusive interview in Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst’s offices after the verdict. “I believe in justice and the American judicial system did not let me down.”
“I am happy for the Prince that he had his day in court,” said Lynn Pinker partner John Volney, Lynn’s co-pilot in the case.
In 2013, Prince Mansour made a $3 million down payment and $310,000 loan to Youtoo and Wyatt as part of a three-month due diligence period for Prince Mansour to obtain a valuation of Youtoo and determine whether to purchase an ownership interest in the company. The contract gave the prince discretion to not purchase any shares in Youtoo and a right to a full refund, according to court documents.
Founded in 2008, Youtoo operates a social television network platform. The company’s technology allows viewers to directly interact with shows, live broadcasts and each other by displaying real-time content produced by viewers on their social media platforms.
During the three-month due diligence period, Prince Mansour and Youtoo also entered a joint venture to pursue expanding Youtoo to markets in the Middle East. When the venture didn’t “take off,” Prince Mansour decided not to invest in Youtoo and requested a refund, Lynn said.
Since Youtoo refused, Prince Mansour sued the company and Wyatt in September 2015 after learning Youtoo planned to sell all of its intellectual property interests which, as Prince Mansour learned during the valuation process, were the company’s only viable assets, court documents say.
Youtoo and Wyatt’s lawyers – Bruce Collins and Sam Joyner of Carrington Coleman – did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
In one of the defense’s briefs, Youtoo and Wyatt argue that Prince Mansour mischaracterized their contract and that it did not give him the right to “[fail] to complete the investment agreement.”
They also argue the $310,000 loan was repaid when the company provided, per their agreement, $320,000 in services free of charge to Youtoo Middle East, which included Wyatt spending “seven months in Dubai helping launch Youtoo ME,” court documents say.
Youtoo and Wyatt countersued the prince for $6 million, alleging he violated various parts of their agreements, and fraudulently induced them into entering their contract and granting the Prince control over Youtoo Middle East.
But after a three-day trial and three hours of deliberation Thursday, the jury unanimously sided with Prince Mansour.
By day two of the trial, Lynn and Volney successfully excluded all evidence and testimony related to Youtoo and Wyatt’s damages claims. On day three, Volney delivered a successful argument for a motion for directed verdict that resulted in Senior U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings dismissing all of the defendants’ counterclaims.
Lynn said the key to winning was the “charm and credibility” Prince Mansour brought to the courtroom when he testified.
“It was a great compliment to the judicial system that a prince from Saudi Arabia would trust the court system as he did,” Lynn said. “I feel proud the jury called balls and strikes in this case in a way that was fair and just.”
It also didn’t hurt that Lynn was fierce in battle – particularly during cross-examination.
“Two days ago I said, ‘Mike, you are a lion.’ That was before I even read the article,” said the prince, referring to Lynn being one of The Texas Lawbook’s Lions of the Texas Bar.
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