Villa Blanca Hit With Large Punitive Damages in Bustillos Case


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As first reported last week, Lisa Vanderpump’s tweet about truth and justice prevailing in her two year court battle with a former waitress who filed hostile work environment and other charges against the restaurant in civil court, was completely misleading.  Today, a jury awarded punitive damages that were based on the evidence presented in court that Ken Todd destroyed the taped surveillance of the alleged abuse by assistant manager Michael Govia. Lawyers for Villa Blanca seem to alternately claim no abuse occurred and/or that this was an isolated incident. However, has discovered at least one other case of wrongful termination by Villa Blanca that was quietly settled out of court.

Click through for the testimony from today’s proceedings.



In her closing argument, plaintiff’s lawyer Genie Harrison said a punitive damage award will help prevent other Villa Blanca employees from experiencing the same type of treatment her client endured.

“What you’re doing is protecting all of them on a going-forward basis,” Harrison said. “You are the ones to teach Villa Blanca that you can’t do this.”

But Villa Blanca attorney Marieanne Zakarian said what happened with Bustillos was an “isolated incident” and urged that no additional money be awarded to the plaintiff.

“The Villa Blanca is not a Fortune 500 company,” Zakarian said. “It’s a family-owned restaurant with 60 to 80 employees.”

Zakarian said there is no concrete evidence supporting Bustillos’ attorneys’ allegations that Vanderpump’s husband, Ken Todd, ordered restaurant surveillance footage destroyed to keep it from being obtained by the media. Bustillos’ lawyers maintain the video could have bolstered their client’s claims. [SOURCE]

It seems that the jury felt that the testimony by Andrew Morrison, the general manager of Villa Blanca at the time of the incident, stating that Ken wanted to be sure that the footage did not get released to the media was sufficient evidence to prove malice intent. Morrison also testified that Todd did not want to make any accommodations for Bustillos after she reported the harassment by Govia.


In testimony today, Michael Velasquez, the eatery’s CPA, told jurors the restaurant had $1.4 million in assets in 2012. Todd, the only other witness today, said profits at the restaurant went down after news accounts of the Bustillos lawsuit.

Harrison told jurors they have a chance to “impose actual consequences” by ordering Villa Blanca to pay punitive damages.

“This phase is literally about making it sting,” she said. ‘It has to hurt or else it’s not going to be taken seriously.”

But Zakarian said the restaurant treated Bustillos fairly after she complained.

“If anything, the Villa Blanca went out of its way to accommodate her,” Zakarian said.

Bustillos has held several server jobs since she left Villa Blanca, Zakarian said.  

“Ms. Bustillos is not financially weak,” Zakarian said. [SOURCE]

Oddly, in court, it was not made clear that a single accommodation was made by Villa Blanca. That was a major factor in Villa Blanca losing the case. I also don’t see why their attorney would point out that Bustillos continues to work in the restaurant industry, which seem to indicate she is a good server.

Ultimately, the jury awarded $100,000 and attorneys’ fees to Bustillos. Lawyers for Villa Blanca vow to appeal. Really? This public relations disaster has not gone on long enough for you Lisa? I suggest you pay the women quickly and quietly. An appeal would likely uphold the ruling and keep this in the media even longer.

Do you guys think that Lisa and Ken will really appeal this case?  I’m guess the attorneys’ fees would be nearly as much as the current award. anticipates having additional information from our exclusive source in the near future.  Meanwhile two fun facts:  TMZ is pretending to be confounded by the judgment.  And Donald Sterling (the racist formers Clippers owner) took two young black females to dinner at Villa Blanca this week.


Filed under Ken Todd, Lisa Vanderpump, News, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, RHOBH

89 responses to “Villa Blanca Hit With Large Punitive Damages in Bustillos Case

  1. puravidacostarica2

    Juicy news! Ain’t looking too rosy for Pinky now, does it?

  2. Cat

    Sounds to me that $100,000 is a drop in the bucket for Ken and Lisa. But then, they refused to pay the initial $300 (or whatever it was) to make this all go away, so yeah, they will probably appeal. What’s going to hurt them more than the money is the backlash from fans, I think. THAT they deserve.

    • frenchpoodlename

      Great (and isolated) work, Tamara. No other news sources are uttering anything that I can find. Chilling. Surely there should now be a case against Todd for perverting the course of justice and evidence tampering. Custodial sentences rather than fines would be appropriate in this case.

      Creepa me out how silent news sources are. It further resounds to the discredit of those covering up. Praises to Bustillo for not caving in.

    • Vanessa W

      problem is i dont think the backlash will be that strong, first no one is reporting this and two ive said before but theresa from rhonj still has a strong fan base, if she can have a strong army, i doubt LV’s will change much lol.

  3. Vanessa W

    first i should just say, really TMZ ? not that difficult to understand. also i am very happy for the waitress, if anything like the statement said this will force the restaurant to take these claims seriously. i definitely think LV will appeal if only because you know the lawyer is convincing them to do so, and especially if they dont feel VB is in the wrong. ken and lisa have enough money that i dont think they care about the fees as much as just being right.

    • frenchpoodlename

      Their grounds for appeal would be (1) that evidence was not destroyed and (2) reasonable accommodation was offered and (3) the work atmosphere was supportive to the plaintiff.

      They can’t appeal. Their hands are not clean. They’ll make noises about considering options and fade it away unappealed. Cue some contrived other drama to distract us.

      • Vanessa W

        yeah i think appealing would not be wise since clearly they are wrong, best case scenario would be to call this case closed and walk away

      • ​Yeah, I think the whole appealing thing is a bluff. It’s time to stop the hemorrhaging legal costs.

        On Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 7:40 PM, Tamara Tattles wrote:


      • actually the amt of punitive damages, considering low amt of actual damages, would be another. surprised judge didnt lower the amount in order to cut off that appeal. (in the end, these things settle before getting that far.) not sure re the malice. normally destroying evidence hasnt been enuf in calif to get malice. so there are likely multiple grounds for appeal. honest to god, tho, i’d hoped they’d learned their lesson from all this but i guess they didnt.

    • puravidacostarica2

      Well, if I remember the ethics rules correctly, lawyers can’t “convince” a client to do anything. The client is the ultimate decision-maker.

      • Sosueme

        True that. They would be fools to mount an appeal..Frenchpoodlename has it right…..OMG destroying the video evidence is absolutely proof of malice…lucky it wasn’t >$$ award. Please, Lisa Dollink, shut up, pay up, move on.

  4. So, #truthprevails??

    The “appeal” can be a negotiating tactic from the losing side – they then get the winning side to agree to a lower settlement than the judgement by agreeing not to appeal….

    Glad the gal won the damages though.

  5. pepper

    Thanks for staying on this Tamara! Important stuff. Harassment cases are the worst and am shocked Lisa (certainly one of my faves) would side against the young woman involved [not during the trial, as it is a given, but seems to have been against her from the get-go].

    Glad a resolution was reached.

    • puravidacostarica2

      I think Lisa’s failure to side with the “young woman” stems from her inability to escape her classist upbringing. She probably thinks she is beyond young and stupid (or beyond server status) and, hence, empathy is no longer an emotion in her repertoire.

      • Fun Fact: Lisa and Ken are in this country on an EB-5 Investment Visa. This is a special way to enter the country with the promise to invest a minimum of either 500K or a million (it depends on a couple of things) and employ a minimum of ten workers (who are not family) and stimulate the economy. The investor (which on paper may be on Ken, or perhaps they are both listed) ​is here to provide Americans employment. One would think that since their employees are the only reason they are allowed to live in the U.S. they might be a bit more interested in their treatment and welfare.

        Or not.

        Fun Fact 2: If they were to sell the restaurants, their visas would be revoked.

        On Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 10:25 PM, Tamara Tattles wrote:


      • that is a very cool fun fact, tamara. i guess effing up multiple employees’ lives isnt enuff to get those visas revoked. things that make you go hmmm…

      • lori

        That is very interesting. They’d better start minding their p’s and q’s now, as other employees see this payout and will surely be documenting any mistreatment going forward.

      • SaraSally

        I wonder if being entrenched in lawsuits could be put in consideration toards stimulating job growth. Sink.

  6. Tasos826

    While I like Lisa and Ken, and probably would have supported both, this news that tape was destroyed is pretty damning. I don’t fault them, or view it in negative light for appealing the amount awarded. It’s a basic given in such matters.

    • Mango

      But is this really the hill the Todds want to die on?
      I think it’s in their best interest to pay and hope this ugly episode fades away. Plus it may cost as much, if not more, to go through the whole appeal process. Even if damages are ultimately reduced, I would imagine that $ has to be offset by the cost of continuing the case.

  7. Jacque

    Well, once again you are proven 100% correct! Pthhhh on the “lawyer” who posted on here saying that Bustillos wasn’t going to get anything and that her lawyers wasn’t going to have Ken and Lisa pay Bustillos attorney fees!
    You go girl!

  8. Din

    I find this especially entertaining because Lisa made that gloating “victory” tweet.. Justice served!

    I kind of hope she DOES drag it out with appealing because you know it will be a storyline next season and people might get a more realistic view of Lisa. Kyle is going to have a field day with this.

    • Kyle is so darn boring. She needs a storyline, but because she is so jealous of Lisa this won’t help her with viewers!

      • Marilyn

        why would Kyle be jealous of Lisa? I like Lisa okay but she’s as shady or shadier than anyone else, but I don’t think she has anything that Kyle would want. Kyle has a successful husband, doesn’t have to work, and has the luxury of being home raising her children. According to most people Lisa has to work hard in her business – not sure a lot of people would want to work so hard especially at Lisa’s age.

      • a) I’ve always thought Kyle was unnecessarily vilified.
        2) Kyle works, she has a brick and mortar business just like Lisa.
        c) Lisa or at least Ken has to work at their business “in a supervisory role” as part of their Visa.

      • madamedummy

        don’t believe kyle is jealous of lisa , who in broad daylight with that , rug , wrinkled old prune skin & azzplants is no joke ..
        nah , me thinks she is pro’ly jealous of kyles gawjus hair & beautiful daughter ..

      • Valerie

        This makes me see Lisa and Ken in a different light most definitely. Extremely disappointed to say the least. However, this is not going to make me like Kyle. She may have been unnecessarily vilified, but it worked. I just can’t like her. That’s another reason I’ll miss Carlton. We had that in common.

    • Vanessa W

      i actuallt hope this is not a part of the storyline, besides i doubt lisa would be willing to make this a part of her story, and i know most dont care for kyle but actually want lisa and kyle to be friends. i loved them season 1 together

  9. RomaReads

    TT your fun fact proves that maybe Donald Sterling, just like Heather Dubrow, loves all races, creeds, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds as well! What I wouldn’t have given to be a fly on the wall at Villa Blanca that night.

  10. Gingersnap

    I’m glad Bustillos was awarded her damages. Although $100,000.00 is nothing to sneeze at, I still wish it was for more. I tend to get a little blood in my eye when I find out the big guy is trying to screw the little guy though.

    Off topic: About 45 minutes ago I saw the Bravo commercial with NeNe in it. The one where she is on the unicycle with the cell phone. Sigh.

  11. Josie

    Ken, Ken, Ken…haven’t we all learned by now that the cover up is worse than the crime.

    Had you been a bit more concerned about the fact that your manager was trying to stick his tongue down your waitress’ throat and grabbing her wrists instead of how this would look in the media…you wouldn’t be looking so bad right NOW.

    A little part of me can understand wanting to cover something up but there was no reason to do so in this case except greed and vanity. It wasn’t like his restaurant or livelihood was on the line. All he needed to do was give her $300 and change her shifts which Morrison was willing to do. Had she sued after that she would have had no leg to stand on. I’m so disappointed in him.

    Glad she got 100k. Sounds fair. The 5 mil was a little exorbitant.

  12. Josie

    Hats off to TT for her reporting and getting to the truth. You are awesome!

    Not surprised TMZ is surprised. They barely know their asses from their elbows. They heard that the manager got off and didn’t bother to look any deeper. This is what passes for journalism. How many on their payroll? How many on TT’s? Enough said.

  13. Oh for the love of Pete…

    Lisa VanderpumpVerified account
    ‏@LisaVanderpump Hard to comprehend how my manager is totally innocent but vb gets damages against them for something that didn’t happen.
    Losing faith.

    • Valerie

      Really? Holy crap. I’m in mourning.

    • MicroOp

      Ugh gross. Why does she even feel the need to comment? If she cat admit the truth and apologize, silence would be golden.

      • ​The gaggle of sycophants blindly (without any knowledge of fact) supporting her is irksome. Some idiot is trying to relay my posts in the TMZ comments without citing me at all. Also infuriating.

        On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 12:44 AM, Tamara Tattles wrote:


    • Gingersnap

      “Hard to comprehend how my manager is totally innocent”, blah, blah, blah. Nice spin. Who the hell said Lisa’s manager was “totally innocent”? If he had been totally innocent, Ken wouldn’t have felt the need to make the video disappear. Now I’m really starting to detest Lisa, and the more she lies, the deeper she’s going to dig her hole. Also, she’s calling the jurors liars when she states that Villa Blanca “gets damages against them for something that didn’t happen.” Something happened, or a jury wouldn’t have found VB (Lisa and Ken) liable for punitive damages to the tune of 100 grand. I’m not buying what Lisa is trying to sell. Wonder what she is losing faith in? Her ability to snow the public maybe? Nah, it couldn’t be that. She must be alluding to losing faith in the system that is wronging her so horribly. Really though, she is just trying to baffle everybody with bullshit…she knows better.

      • and it appears not a sole is questioning her.​

        On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 1:30 AM, Tamara Tattles wrote:


      • Vanessa W

        Makes me annoyed because I like her, but I will be definitely be giving me and my love of lisa a little break ( at least until the season starts again, don’t judge lol )

      • frenchpoodlename

        Lisa is sacrificing a lot on Govia’s altar:- Bustillos, truth, principle, Ken, Pandora, the good faith and goodwill of the public, the court, her credibility.

        What on earth has this guy got that isn’t visible to the rest of us?

  14. Dracla Dunning

    I guess if Lisa and Ken’s attorneys feel there was an error of the law during the proceedings they have a right to appeal but good luck with that costly venture. Operating with the premise that there’s one born every minute their attorneys may blow some smoke up their asses and convince them to drag this decision out longer.
    Obviously money is not the issue with Ken and Lisa because, if it was, this case would have been settled a long time ago. At this stage of the game it must be all about pride and trying to mess with Bustillos some more because someone is a sore loser. I doubt that appealing will change the final result. They were wrong, violated laws and were vengeful. Idiots.
    Watching them get reamed a second time might be worth the entertainment value but I would not wish that on Bustillos as I am certain she wants to put this incident behind her and move on with life.
    Now, as far as the interests of the attorneys and an appeal…cha ching.
    Lisa and Ken have to decide how much more they want or can afford to lose. Not factoring in the time lost by both of them away from running their businesses, the costs to date probably come close to a quarter million and climbing when you combine the decision and both attorneys’ fees. That is pocket change for Ken and Lisa. If they appeal maybe the next ruling will hurt.
    Bustillos delivered a knock out. Do they really want to glove up again? Ken tampered with evidence like a punk. He’s fortunate he got off the first go-around as tampering with evidence is frowned upon and an appeal would give the judges an opportunity to revisit that unlawful action.
    Lisa and Ken have worked hard to establish a “brand”. Apollo is great at counseling those who are worried about their “brand”. He would tell Lisa and Ken to use their medulla oblongata and not be juvial in their thinking because they may do something Jesus couldn’t fix. An appeal may tarnish the Vanderpump/Todd brand. They have no one to blame but themselves.

  15. puravidacostarica2

    Alright last comment on this thread but here goes….an award of $100,000 is really small potatoes in the world of punitive damage awards (it will be the ultimate attorney fee award that will really sting). Lisa and Ken (I.e., Villa Blanca) need to pay and shut up. Lisa is making a huge mistake mouthing off on Twitter. She is showing her ignorance. What the manager may or may not have been found liable for is different from the post-event actions taken by their business (with their consent and approval which neither Lisa nor Ken has denied thus far). Losing faith Lisa? Maybe it is time to make England your home again.

  16. Beth

    This “incident” has the potential to cost Lisa and Ken a lot of money. If the correct people decide their resturants are no longer the places to go to be seen, then they might not be able to meet the requirement of the minimum number of American employees they need. If I worked for them I would start a union and hold them accountable for all their shit and laugh when they have to leave America!!!

  17. Valley View

    Dear Tamara-A superlative job of reporting this story. You have been sited on other sites as the straw that stirs the drink. Way to go!!! Keep up the good work.

    I bet Lisa and Ken are a little nervous there is a line forming around the block of employees past and present who might have a cause of action against the Vanderpump-Todd empire.

    Thanks again for the story and hard work.

    • Vanessa W

      I thought the same thing wonder if anyone else would be thinking about forming a lawsuit as we’ll, I would definitely feel nervous from now on

      • I TOTALLY believe the chick who brought the suit, but I have more info than I am posting for legal reasons. But let’s just say, the whole thing was a “money grab”. How hard would it have been to make the server comfortable, pay her the money you said you would and make a few schedule changes?

        They seem to be going above and beyond to protect this Andrew Govia gentleman who has made news over the cardboard in the salad issue and I believe he may have allegedly been part of the previous case.

        How long until he no longer works there?​

        On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 1:55 AM, Tamara Tattles wrote:


  18. denise

    They should pay and move on. Still don’t understand why they didn’t pay the original request of $300.

      • frenchpoodlename

        If they paid her for two days’ emergency compassionate leave it would be tacit admission there had been a triggering incident and risking liability.

      • ​Which is what they did when the gave them to her. And then refused to pay her. Allegedly. As I understand it.

        On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 2:21 PM, Tamara Tattles wrote:


      • puravidacostarica2

        “Hubris” — best word yet to describe Ken and Lisa.

    • I don’t think it was even a request of the server. I think she was given two days with pay and then not paid. That’s just my take on what I am hearing. My source is weird. Source OFFERS info and then doesn’t provide everthing. Perhaps they could not obtain it but still. It’s like getting one worded when interrogating your man about a cheating allegation…:)

      Sources. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.​

      On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 12:02 AM, Tamara Tattles wrote:


      • HerDaughter

        Ummmmmm…..Med’s! Not Men*
        I hate auto correct! !

      • Sosueme

        Perhaps I’ve missed a major fact, but why did the former mgr leave the restaurant’s employ? Was he a disgruntled employee or did he leave amicably? His credibility was key, as TT has pointed out – to make the plaintiff’s case Was there corroboration for the tape erasure? The jury must have felt the guy was credible enough to support the verdict but punitive damages would have been a lot higher if they had found clear proof Ken destroyed evidence. Since there wasn’t a finding of assault, the jury did not completely believe the GM and awarded damages because of that ding dang unpaid $300 and the callous indifference to employee’s complaint/hostile work environment. Ken & Lisa (and Pandora? – really sweetie – have a little empathy) may have been nervous about setting a precedent encouraging other employees to manufacture/blow up incidents for cash – so instead they chose to dismiss the issue – a rash (classist maybe ) and fateful decision…..$300 SMH….but for the shoe, the kingdom was lost.

        Hope they wise up and pay much closer attention to the little people in their employ or they risk being run out of town on a rose covered rail.

      • Josie

        I would love to know why Morrison is no longer employed there and why Bustillos also didn’t want to work with the other manager either. Govia I get, however what problem did she have with the other manager? Apparently she only wanted to work with Morrison…maybe he was a good friend of Govia’s…

      • ​The other person was not a manager. It was a guy. Much like say, Stassi not wanting to work shifts with Jax. Lisa had no problem with that.

        On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 1:25 PM, Tamara Tattles wrote:


    • Dee

      I agree alledgedly they gave her two days off, said she would be paid, they didn’t pay the $300 or change her schedule so she wouldn’t have to work with Govia. What kind of business are they running, how stupid. I’m glad they have to pay

  19. madamedummy

    thanks for the update ..
    ahahaha …funny …
    this is especially entertaining ’cause lisa was always my least favorite …& ken ugh ..
    can’t stand them …..
    they are the 2 biggest phony baloneys on reality tv…
    i wish somebody would expose their true ages
    & their alcoholism …

  20. loriflack

    They do seem to be protective about Govia and now makes wonder what was really going on with Cedric?

    • Josie

      I really think it was less about Govia than the fear that admitting liability would give them bad publicity and put them in danger of a lawsuit. No Ken, trying to sweep it under the rug and NOT dealing with it is what causes lawsuits.

      One of Giggy’s furs probably costs $300. Can he be that cheap? I don’t think so. I think Ken stiffed her because he thought that it was admitting culpability. He wanted her to go away quietly and make it disappear. Well that $300 dollars just cost him $100,000! Bad karma. He should have done the right thing…

  21. Katie

    Yep, makes you wonder about the relationship with Cedric, and if a similar “relationship” exists with Govia. But when Cedric became a liability, he got the boot. All this threats to “reveal all” never materialized. Maybe Govia will simply fade into the fog as well when things settle down.
    Sadly, I thought the Ken we came to know on RHOBH would have more sensitivity on sexual harassment issues for women, especially considering he has a daughter he dotes on almost as much as he dotes on his dog, and a wife he professes to adore completely.
    I get the feeling that Lisa and Ken are hardcore scrappers and have been for many years. But God help me, I still love seeing Lisa on the show and did not support the gang up on her last year. So mixed feelings all around.

  22. Vanessa W

    wow i just read the fun fact i had no idea lisa and ken were here on visa’s. you know everything TT lol

  23. Katrina

    There are a lot of companies that are sued and punitive judgements are made by the court. I wonder if they will ever pay? It is possible that they will just appeal. If they feel like this will set a precedence, they will continue to fight it.

    • Valley View

      Villa Blanca has to post a bond or cash with the court in order to stay the enforcement of judgment during the appellate process. Usually it is 1 1/2 times the judgment amount.

  24. loriflack

    Yolanda is probably loving this after that big stink she made with Ken not touching her.

  25. Valley View

    Tamara-Has the plaintiff filed for the trial costs and attorneys fees? It is usually done shortly after trial. I would be interested in seeing what kind of really big numbers Villa Blanca is going to have to pay. Ten days in trial in California is expensive.

  26. Valerie

    “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I wish Ken and Lisa would apologize, and mean it. People are not dispensable but many employers think they are, including these two. I fuck up all the time, take responsibility for your actions! Apologize, learn and follow the golden rule. If they continue to say that they are the ones being mistreated then I cut all ties with them, and our relationship thus far has been a mockery of a sham of a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a travesty of a mockery of a sham…

    • frenchpoodlename

      How is it being kept so quiet all round? No reference in RHONY comments despite an oblique reference by a commenter early on. Eerie silence with a hint of fear.

      I note Govia’s Facebook photo is very like a young George Clooney.

      • Valerie

        Nowhere are they saying (last time I looked anyway) that Ken had the video erased once the lawsuit was filed.

      • Morrison said it in his depo.​

        On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 8:49 PM, Tamara Tattles wrote:


      • Valerie

        Tamara, I know it happened. I meant no one is reporting that Ken made sure the tape was destroyed. You seem to be the only one that’s talking about the fact that this happened. That fact is not being brought up at all anywhere else that I’ve seen. Very suspicious. You know TMZ has the whole story and has decided they’re confused why Ken and Lisa have to pay punitive damages etc…sorry, I wasn’t able to spit it out correctly earlier. I told you that I need moderation sometimes.

      • Well to be fair, it wasn’t easy to get the depo and I doubt anyone else has it. ​

        On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 11:15 PM, Tamara Tattles wrote:


      • Vcampbell

        I want to be fair of course. You’ve got the good stuff that’s for sure. I wish you could give us more without you getting in trouble. Gimme gimme gimme!

  27. lori

    What’s going on in that gif? Is that Ken?

  28. Valerie

    I know I said I was cutting all Vanderpump ties earlier, but I can’t. I seem to be here for the long haul.

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