Circuit Judge Robert Mandel declared a mistrial Friday in the lawsuit a Rapid City man launched against his daughters' figure skating coach in 2010.

After deliberating for almost seven hours on Thursday, the jury returned to work Friday morning for two hours only to tell Mandel they could not agree on a verdict. A majority of 10-2 is required in a civil case.

Brett Widvey sued Lisa Hakimi for defamation after Hakimi sought a protection order against him in September 2010. A judge rejected Hakimi's bid for a permanent protection order six weeks after she asked for the order.

Widvey filed his lawsuit in December 2010, claiming Hakimi had labeled him a stalker. He sought $135,000 in compensatory damages and $20,000 in punitive damages.

During closing arguments Thursday, Widvey's attorney John Burke and Hakimi's attorney Thomas Fritz, both challenged the jury to act as the community's conscience.

Burke said a verdict for his client would send a message about the abuse of protection orders.

The protection order process worked as it should by putting space between Hakimi and Widvey and cooling tensions, Fritz countered.

After dismissing the jury on Friday, Mandel said it could be next fall before he can schedule a new trial.

Contact Andrea J. Cook at 394-8423 or andrea.cook@rapidcityjournal.com

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