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A jury Wednesday awarded $13.7 million to a project management company that alleged the Beverly Hills Unified School District wrongfully terminated a contract for upgrading its facilities and tried to put the firm out of business.

The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about 1 1/2 days before finding in favor of Strategic Concepts LLC, which was owned by Karen Christiansen.

Christiansen, who wept and hugged her attorney, Philip Kaufler, said after the verdict that she was relieved with the outcome.

“It’s been six years of hell and I’m excited it’s over,” Christiansen said.

Kaufler maintained that Jerry Gross, a former district superintendent, used his influence to get the firm’s agreement canceled with the complicity of the school board. Kaufler said Gross was a salesman for a competing company, TELACU, and wanted the $334 million building improvement project the plaintiff was overseeing transferred to his firm.

In the process, Strategic Concepts was destroyed, Kaufler said.

“It was a striking tale of corruption and fraud,” Kaufler said, telling jurors it was actually Gross who had “a direct conflict of interest.”

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