'Rosie' Poker Game -- Both Sides Lower Their Stakes

22 December 2003

The damages sought by both parties in the Rosie O'Donnell versus Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing court case have been substantially lowered by both sides. This unexpected parsimony follows a heavy hint by Supreme Court Judge Ira Gammerman that neither side "is going to recover anything other than nominal damages" [WAMN: 14-Nov-03].

"Nothing", opined the judge last month, "would indicate to me I should find anybody would have made money" from Rosie magazine, a joint venture between G+J and O'Donnell which folded in December 2002 after little more than a year of struggle.

O'Donnell, American TV queen, agony aunt and media maven, had a women's magazine -- a moribund American icon known as McCall’s -- rebranded in her image by G+J in May 2001. But last year she quit the title [WAMN: 20-Sep-02], thereby triggering its closure and a flurry of lawsuits culminating in the current case.

Having effectively terminated the public hearing of the case, Gammerman is now digesting the "findings of fact" -- filings which summarize the key points of each side's case.

The combatants originally sued each other for over $100 million (€80.78m; £56.68m). But the latest filings significantly reduce the damages sought. G+J now demands $27.2m plus interest and attorneys' fees, and some $2 million in costs related to the magazine's closure. O'Donnell has deflated her damages claim to $26.8m.

The dry language of the filings was, according to Ad Age, occasionally colorized by references to O'Donnell "losing one's temper"; and her lawyers' contention that "G+J's showing that O'Donnell became angry and used vulgar language on occasion does not amount to a proof of breach of contract."

It is still unknown when Judge Gammerman will deliver his verdict.

Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff