Deutsch Moves to Dismiss Dworin's $56 Million Lawsuit

Lawyer Claims Slander, Libel and Breach-of-Contract Accusations Are Bogus

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Donny Deutsch last week moved to dismiss the lawsuit filed by his former colleague, Steve Dworin.
The lawsuit was triggered by the publication of Donny Deutsch's book, 'Often Wrong, Never in Doubt: Unleash the Business Rebel Within.'
The lawsuit was triggered by the publication of Donny Deutsch's book, 'Often Wrong, Never in Doubt: Unleash the Business Rebel Within.'

Seeks $56 million
The suit, filed in Superior Court of New Jersey in March, is replete with eye-opening accusations. It claims Mr. Deutsch improperly charged clients for advertising production and lied to clients and prospects about his agency's size and capabilities, and asks for $56 million in damages for slander, libel, breach of contract and inflicting emotional distress.

Mr. Dworin, who left his post as president of Deutsch/Dworin in 1994, bases much of his suit on the contents from Mr. Deutsch's book "Often Wrong, Never in Doubt: Unleash the Business Rebel Within." Parts of the text, Mr. Dworin claims, breach a clause, signed by both men in 1994, when Mr. Dworin left the agency, that called for confidentiality and nondisparagement. He also accuses the adman and TV talk show host of libel, saying that the book contains false and defamatory statements about him.

Deutsch attorney comment
In the response, Judd Burstein, Mr. Deutsch's attorney, calls the case one "brought for supposed injury to a nonexistent current reputation in the advertising business. It is the equivalent of a 55-year-old baseball player, who retired 11 years ago after being cut from three successive Major League Spring Training camps, claiming that his baseball career today had been injured by a current writer criticizing how the player had fielded 11 years ago."

Mr. Burstein argues to dismiss the disparagement and breach-of-contract claims largely for legal reasons. He says both accusations were made against Mr. Deutsch as an individual, but the contract in question was signed by Mr. Deutsch in his role as a corporate officer, not as an individual. Mr. Burstein refutes Mr. Dworin's claim that the nondisparagement clause exists forever, arguing that the agreement contains no language "providing for perpetual enforcement." Rather, it continues only for a reasonable period of time, which is about three years.

Addressing the libel issue, Mr. Burstein argues that Mr. Dworin failed to adequately prove special damages, such as the loss of customers or general diminution of business.

Other parties also move to dismiss
Other parties named in Mr. Dworin's suit -- Deutsch Inc. and Linda Sawyer, Deutsch Inc.'s CEO -- have moved to dismiss the suit or, failing that, to have it moved from New Jersey to New York state.

The next step in the continuing litigation between Mr. Deutsch and Mr. Dworin is for the court to either decide the case or to hear arguments in September.
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