No End In Sight For Decade-Long Conn. Divorce Case
''Basically, my kids and I have been brutalized,'' Zilkha said, referring to the legal process. ''It's been soul-destroying. It's been life-destroying.''
Kaiser filed for divorce on Aug. 13, 2003, saying the five-year marriage had ''broken down irretrievably.'' A judge granted the divorce May 31, 2005, but the case continued with scores of motions involving the children and legal costs.
The proceedings took an unusual turn in January 2009, when the divorce case unveiled evidence that led the Securities and Exchange Commission to reopen an insider trading investigation against Pequot Capital Management Inc., then based in Westport.
SEC officials said Kaiser provided them with emails she saved from her and her ex-husband's home computer that helped show Zilkha provided inside information about Microsoft Corp. to Pequot and its founder and chairman, Arthur Samberg, in 2001. The SEC alleged Pequot and Samberg used the information to trade Microsoft shares and make more than $14 million for the Pequot funds.
Pequot and Samberg later agreed to pay $28 million to settle the SEC's insider trading charges, but neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing. The SEC also obtained a $250,000 judgment against Zilkha, who was working at Microsoft when Pequot hired him in April 2001.
Kaiser and her current husband, meanwhile, got a $1 million award from the SEC for helping with the investigation — the largest award the agency had ever paid for information in an insider trading case.
Pequot, which was a major investment firm that managed $15 billion in assets at its peak in 2001, shut down in 2009 amid the SEC investigation.
Pequot fired Zilkha in late 2001, but he later won a $2.1 million settlement in a wrongful termination lawsuit. The settlement, which was to be paid in three installments, became an issue — and is still an issue — in the divorce case, with Kaiser accusing Zilkha of not disclosing the award. Payment of the third installment has been delayed because of court proceedings.
Most divorce cases are nothing like Kaiser and Zilkha's case in terms of length and the volume of paperwork, said Carolyn Wilkes Kaas, an associate law professor at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. But such acrimony, unfortunately, is not unheard of, she said.
Another Connecticut divorce case, Nancy Tauck v. Peter Tauck, included an 86-day trial in 2007 that cost some $13 million in attorneys' fees. Lawyers in the case believe it was the longest divorce trial in state history. That case was filed in May 2005 and lasted to December 2011, with nearly 700 filings.