EXCLUSIVE: How much is Hillsborough heiress Tiffany Li paying in wrongful death lawsuit?

ByDan Noyes and Ed Walsh KGO logo
Friday, January 12, 2024
EXCLUSIVE: What Hillsborough heiress Tiffany Li is paying in lawsuit
ABC7 I-Team learned details of a multi-million dollar settlement to a wrongful death lawsuit against Hillsborough heiress Tiffany Li.

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- It's been more than four years since a jury acquitted Hillsborough heiress Tiffany Li for the murder of her former partner, Keith Green. Now, the ABC7 I-Team has learned details of a multi-million dollar settlement to a wrongful death lawsuit, filed on behalf of her own young daughters and their grandmother.

Lawyers for Li fought hard to keep the details of the settlement secret, but a judge ruled the public has a right to know. Green's body was found in this field near Healdsburg in May 2016.

The I-Team spoke with his mother, Colleen Cudd, who said, "He was a really great guy, caring and loving with friends."

Cudd tries to get through the day without thinking about the murder.

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"Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night, and it all goes through my mind again. I'm seeing a therapist and on medication, so I'm not too depressed," she said

Prosecutors charged Green's former partner and mother of his two children, Li; her new boyfriend, Kaveh Bayat; and their trainer and bodyguard, Olivier Adella, with murder.

But, a jury acquitted Li, hung on Bayat's charge, and Adella pled down to accessory after the fact. He admitted to ABC7's Dan Noyes from jail that he disposed of the body.

DAN NOYES: "As you're heading north with Keith Green's body in your trunk, what's going through your mind?"

OLIVIER ADELLA: "What's going through my mind? Well, you're a black man in America, my friend. You're screwed. You get rid of the body, you're screwed. You don't get rid of the body, you're screwed."

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After the verdict in 2019, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told reporters, "As of today, there will be nobody held accountable for Keith Green's murder. The evidence ultimately was not enough."

Even before the criminal case finished, Green's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Li, heiress to a Chinese real estate fortune. And through a court-appointed guardian, Li's own daughters -- now 9 and 11 years old -- joined the lawsuit against their mother.

DAN NOYES: "What was the aim of the lawsuit in the first place?""

COLLEEN CUDD: "You know, make sure that the girls had something for themselves when they turned 18 and that they weren't controlled by their mother."

Instead of going to trial, Li settled and we can now finally report the details. Each of her daughters received $5 million, Colleen Cudd $100,000, and the estate $50,000 to administer the girls' trust funds until they turned 18.

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Duffy Magilligan, Cudd's attorney, said, "Our case, we didn't have to prove what her intent was. In our case, all we had to prove was that Tiffany Li increased the risk of harm to Keith Green by her conduct."

Li and Green were involved in a nasty custody battle, and Magilligan said, Li described Green as a gold-digger to her new boyfriend, and their trainer and bodyguard.

"And in her words, he was a terrible father, and Olivia Adella and Kave Bayat interpreted her disparaging comments as a direction to go and get rid of Keith Greene," Magilligan said.

Magilligan's partner, Nabilah Hossain, said Li may have settled to avoid testifying; she didn't take the stand in the criminal trial.

"But at a civil case, she certainly would have had to testify. So she would have been subjected to, not only direct examination, but cross examination as well," Hossain said.

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But attorneys who worked on Tiffany Li's criminal defense and advised on the civil case tell us there was no need for a trial.

"The money that was given to the kids was going to go to the kids anyway," Geoffrey Carr said. "This didn't cost the Li family anything, because those kids are in line. They're the only heirs of Tiffany."

May Mar added, "She wanted to live her life, she wanted to move on with her private life, she wanted to raise her girls and just start living life again."

The court documents also say that lawyers for Colleen Cudd and the children offered to settle for a total of $4.8 million about three years ago. Plaintiffs' attorneys will wind up taking about a quarter of the award in fees.

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