When last I reported on the Gilbert Hyatt case, Mr. Hyatt had won nearly $400,000,000 (yes, that’s $400 million) in a lawsuit from the Franchise Tax Board. This case began when Mr. Hyatt moved from California to Nevada in 1992, but the Franchise Tax Board didn’t think so. So agents of the FTB rummaged through Mr. Hyatt’s garbage in Nevada, and in the view of a Las Vegas court, committed torts against Mr. Hyatt. Including legal fees and continued interest, the tab is now around $500 million.
This case went to the US Supreme Court before it was tried; the FTB attempted to hold that California couldn’t be sued. The Supreme Court ruled against the FTB, and the case was tried in 2008…ten years after it was filed.
Not surprisingly, the FTB has appealed the decision. I’ve been trying for a while to discover the status of the case, and this evening finally found a blurb noting that the case is awaiting a date for oral arguments at the Nevada Supreme Court. [Go to page 12 of the link to see the status.] (Nevada does not have intermediate courts of appeal.) So sometime in the next year or so we’ll likely get a final verdict on how much the Golden State will be out in this case. Of course, the FTB could appeal this case to the US Supreme Court if they lose at the Nevada Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the underlying alleged liability that triggered the whole fiasco–whether Mr. Hyatt was a California resident when he earned money off a semiconductor patent–is trickling through the California administrative hearing process.