from: http://legalpad.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2007/11/15/judith-regans-bizarre-complaint-against-news-corp/ November 15, 2007 Judith Reganâs bizarre complaint against News Corp. I canât literally say that Iâve never seen a complaint like the one Judith Reganâs lawyers filed on her behalf two days ago against News Corp. (NWS), HarperCollins Publishers, and HarperCollinsâs president, Jane Friedman. When I first got out of law school and was clerking for a federal judge in Texas, I did see a few comparable pleadings, though those were usually filed âpro seâ â i.e., by the plaintiff himself, without the assistance of a lawyer. One, I remember, was a civil rights suit naming as defendants the President of the United States, all nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, the plaintiffâs ex-wife, and a local Pizza Hut. Like that complaint, Reganâs reads like one of those humor pieces in The New Yorker, where it not-so-gradually dawns on the reader that the narrator is out of his gourd. Even though youâre hearing only one side of the story, thatâs enough to make up your mind against the griper. Youâll recall that Regan, who headed the ReganBooks imprint at HarperCollins, was fired in December 2006 for allegedly using anti-Semitic language in a telephone call with company lawyers, which Regan denied. The call occurred not long after the twin publicity fiascos surrounding Reganâs plans to publish O.J. Simpsonâs quasi-confessional If I Did It book and, shortly thereafter, a first-person novel about Mickey Mantle in which the author assumed Mantleâs voice and described, inter alia, a tryst with teammate Joe DiMaggioâs wife, Marilyn Monroe. Reganâs 70-page, 345-paragraph, 24-count complaint was filed in state court in Manhattan on Tuesday, and is available here. It mainly alleges defamation and breach of contract, but, almost in passing, it throws in a couple counts of sex discrimination, too. âUnder Jane Friedmanâs direction,â she alleges, âthere is . . . a pattern within HarperCollins of firing high-level women in order to surround herself with men.â (She gives no examples besides herself.) The complaint is signed by attorney Brian Kerr, of New Yorkâs 175-lawyer Dreier firm, but it has an astoundingly unfiltered quality to it. Regan is also represented by famed Los Angeles entertainment lawyer Bert Fields, but the complaint doesnât list him as counsel. (Through Reganâs spokesperson, both attorneys declined comment.) Reganâs complaint boasts that she built a âpublishing and media juggernaut,â whose recent publications have included, inter alia, âno fewer than three books related to the Scott Peterson case.â It quotes an article describing how Reganâs âearly experience as a reporter for the National Enquirer was great training in the art of the popular,â and how her winter 2006 catalog featured a âcover illustration of Regan stretched across a pile of books,â prompting an âunprecedentedâ article in The New York Times. (The Timesâs headline was, âSheâs Not Just the Publisher, Sheâs the Cover Model, Too.â) But whatâs remarkable about the complaint is how far it ventures beyond merely disputing that she said anything anti-Semitic in that fateful phone call â a seemingly winnable, he-said-she-said squabble had her lawyers stopped her there. Instead, theyâve allowed her to allege that News Corp. had actually been plotting her demise for at least five years before the Simpson debacle. âThis smear campaign was necessary to advance News Corp.âs political agenda, which has long centered on protecting Rudy Giulianiâs presidential ambitions,â they write in paragraph 1 of the complaint. âDefendants knew they would be protecting Giuliani if they could preemptively discredit her,â the complaint continues. Reganâs saying that News Corp. has been undermining her credibility for years because it feared she knew about unspecified skeletons in Giulianiâs closet that she had learned during her 2001 affair with then-Mayor Giulianiâs then-Police Chief Bernard Kerik and, further, that the company anticipated Regan might go public with if Giuliani ever ran for president. The company also needed to discredit her, she theorizes, in case she were ever to reveal that two senior News Corp. executives had allegedly advised her to lie to investigators and conceal evidence from them when they began probing Kerik. A spokeswoman for News Corp. has called the suit âpreposterous,â and a spokesperson for HarperCollins and Friedman echoed that sentiment to me. The defendantsâ first attempt to discredit Regan occurred in 2001, she alleges. (The timeline is puzzling, since Kerik did not first come under suspicion for criminal wrongdoing until 2004, and, as a consequence, it wasnât publicly known until then that he might pose any problems for Giuliani, assuming Giuliani ever did announce for president, as he finally did this year. Kerik pled guilty to two state misdemeanor charges in 2006, and was charged in a 16-count federal indictment last week. He has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.) Anyway, the 2001 incident was one that Reganâs former close friend Michael Wolff wrote about in a Vanity Fair article in May 2007. As Wolff put it: âJudith lost a cell phone on the set of her TV show [and] she was able to have N.Y.P.D. detectives sent out to the homes of the production-crew members she suspected of having snatched it.â In the complaint, Regan protests that this was a false, nasty rumor spread by, once again, an unnamed senior News Corp. official. The truth was, she explains, that she had not sent the detectives out to catch the guy who had stolen her phone â no, not at all. Rather, it had been her lover, Kerik, who âused his authority as NYC Police Commissioner to send detectives out to investigateâ and âwho caused the detectives to knock on the doors of Fox News employees.â In Reganâs mind, evidently, she has now set the record straight. In like manner, she then proceeds, point-by-point, to give her side of a litany of highly embarrassing events, unwittingly confirming most of them in most key respects. (An exception is the anti-semitic remarks, which she consistently denies.) Along the way, Regan also dredges up some stories I hadnât previously heard about and which, had I been her lawyer, I might have chosen to let lie. She complains, for instance, that some unidentified person â itâs unclear from the complaint if itâs even a News Corp. employee â had attributed Reganâs success to her âgolden vagina,â but that âwhen Regan complained about this sexist and insulting remark, nothing was ever done.â In any case, Regan alleges, News Corp. and Friedman, in pursuit of their farsighted goal of undermining Reganâs credibility, set about poisoning the minds of a great many people, evidently with considerable success. The defendants allegedly disparaged her âto prospective and new employees at ReganBooks,â worked to âturn them againstâ her, tried âto get them to file complaints against her,â failed âto curtail the activities of HarperCollins insidersâ who were constantly making âdisparaging remarksâ about her; and, all in all, âencourage[d] a culture of gossip, back-stabbing, negative leaks and hostility inside and outside the company.â Moreover, they âplant[ed] employees within ReganBooks to âkeep an eye on Regan,â and report back to the HR department at HarperCollins,â she maintains, and âfail[ed] to investigate the serious security breaches that resulted in (among other incidents) an extremely heavy lighting fixture falling out of the ceiling and shattering Reganâs desk.â Ironically, one of the accusations that Regan says was unfairly leveled against her, according to the complaint, was that she was âout of control.â Yet, of course, thatâs precisely the impression left by the complaint itself. Slackjawed after reading the complaint, I was struggling to put into words my reaction to it. Now more curious than ever about Regan, I read Wolffâs Vanity Fair piece for the first time. I soon found a description of how I was feeling that seemed to fit perfectly, though he was responding to a different document. He was describing his reaction to the O.J. Simpson book itself, when he finally read it in connection with his story. It was such a ârun-amok, phantasmagorical marketing-and-merchandizing scheme,â he wrote, âthat all you do, as you read it, is consider the psychopathology of how it ever came into being.â I canât improve upon that.