LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – A former Hollywood executive suedcelebrity gossipoutletTMZMonday for $20 million over an article that allegedly branded him a thief and a rapist.
Ronald Grigg, an attorney and former president ofJon Peters Entertainment, filed suit for defamation inLos Angeles Superior Courtover aDecember 24, 2008 report entitled "Famous Producer Alleges Fraud, Theft, Date Rape." It detailed a lawsuit Peters had filed against Grigg.
"The article states that (Grigg) committed crimes during his employment, and as such, portrays him as a loathsome criminal," the complaint says.
When the lawsuit was filed, Grigg was in the middle of an employment dispute with Peters and suffered irreparable harm due to the statements in the article, he says.
Grigg claims TMZ failed to investigate the matter and include his side of the story in the article, giving rise to claims for libel and false light and at least $20 million in damages.
TMZ, run by attorneyHarvey Levinwho is also named in the suit, did not respond to a request for comment. But a perusal of its report indicated that it was careful to restate what was said in Peters' lawsuit, which is usually covered under the fair reporting privilege of theFirst Amendment.