A former oil executive won a massive legal victory Wednesday when an appeals court overturned a $38 million judgment his ex-wife won in their divorce, according to court papers.
Todd Kozel, who married a young Lithuanian blonde after he and wife Ashley split in 2010, was ordered by a family court judge in Florida to pay his socialite ex the hefty sum when he was late turning over 23 million shares of his former company Gulf Keystone Petroleum, Ltd., under the terms of their 2012 divorce agreement, Florida appellate court papers say.
Ashley, who married Todd in 1992, claimed that the delay made her lose out on selling her shares when the market was high which a judge agreed with. Todd argued that the judge didn’t have jurisdiction to rule on a breach of contract case, the court documents say.
Todd claims the shares he turned over to Ashley were worth more than $100 million while Ashley has maintained they were worth far less.
On Wednesday the Second District court of appeals in Florida sided with Todd that the family court judge didn’t have jurisdiction to rule on Ashley’s claims — which would need to be filed as a new case in a civil court.
“The family court lacked jurisdiction to make the money damages awards that it did here,” appeals court judge Salario wrote in his decision from Wednesday.
Ashley’s lawyers still have one last shot to argue their side before the ruling becomes final.
“Ashley Kozel’s behavior toward her ex-husband has been appalling,’’ Todd’s lawyer, Jeffrey Crockett, said.
“She and her legal team have been on a vendetta against him ever since he remarried. They found a Florida judge who was willing, even eager, to ignore the facts and assist in their demonization of Mr. Kozel. But the facts – and the law – have won out,” Crockett said. “Mr. Kozel will now be pursuing his extensive legal options in regard to Ms. Kozel and her lawyer.’’
Ashley’s lawyer, Zachary Potter, said that this is a minor procedural win for Todd among many other unfavorable decisions that find “Mr. Kozel committed egregious frauds on the court including [a judge’s] ruling that Mr. Kozel produced ‘falsified documents in discovery to effectuate a fraud on the court’ and to undermine the authority of the court.”
“Mr. Kozel seeks to sensationalize the trial, but, at the end of the day, he is the one who turned a simple contract dispute into a fraud on both state and federal courts,” Potter said.
The feds brought a criminal case against Todd last December for allegedly trying to cheat Ashley out of tens of millions of dollars by hiding stock in an overseas trust and using the money to buy a posh condo in Chelsea. He pleaded not guilty in that case which is still pending.
“Indeed, the criminal prosecution of Mr. Kozel in New York is based upon an independent determination by the U.S. Department of Justice that his conduct was a violation of federal criminal law and was not in any way based upon Florida matrimonial law,” Potter said.