Dentsu, Biegel Reach Settlement

Ends Salacious Mad Avenue Legal Tussle

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The salacious legal tussle between adman Steve Biegel and his former employer Dentsu that began last fall has ended, following the announcement today of a settlement. Terms of the settlement agreement were not disclosed.
Steve Biegel
Steve Biegel

The deal comes after Mr. Biegel, a onetime senior VP-creative director for more than three years at the U.S. arm of the Japanese-owned agency who worked on key accounts such as Canon, filed a lawsuit last October against Dentsu and top agency executives Toyo Shigeta and Timothy Andree for alleged discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Mr. Biegel claimed he was fired after he complained about being put in sexually-charged work situations.

Brothels and bathhouses
That complaint was laden with scandalous allegations about trips to a Czech brothel and a Japanese bathhouse, and a commercial shoot at which Mr. Shigeta allegedly snapped a lewd photo of Canon spokeswoman Maria Sharapova. The suit also claimed that the agency's top brass were biased against Jews.

Dentsu, which publicly dismissed all of Mr. Biegel's allegations as bogus and nothing more than a ploy to extract money from the agency, tried to have his claims thrown out of court, but presiding U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon struck down Dentsu's motion to dismiss the complaint. The agency earlier also had threatened to file counterclaims for defamation and fraud, but never did.

The resolution announced today dismisses all allegations and claims pertaining to the case, and prevents Dentsu from asserting any counterclaims in the future.

Mr. Biegel, his lawyer Andrew Dwyer and representatives for Dentsu did not immediately return calls.

Joint statement
In a joint e-mailed statement, Mr. Biegel and Dentsu Holdings USA, Dentsu America, and Messrs. Shigeta and Timothy Andree said they "wish to put the dispute behind them and move on to successful future endeavors."

The statement revealed little more about the settlement deal, though it did make a point to clear Mr. Biegel's professional reputation: "His termination was not performance based, in fact, Toyo Shigeta was generally satisfied with Biegel's performance on behalf of Dentsu's clients," it said.

Mr. Biegel is currently employed by New York-based independent agency Scarlet Heifer, which launched in 2007, where he is listed as a principal and creative director.
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