EXCLUSIVE: It probably won’t show up on Judge Judy’s newly announced court series for IMDbTV, but the multi-million dollar legal battle between Judith Sheindlin and Rebel Entertainment Partners is turning into even more of a bareknuckle brawl.
With a history of indirect litigation over the past few years, both sides are now directly flinging terms like “vicious” and “baseless character assassination” at each other – and that’s just the polite stuff.
“Sheindlin has been away from an actual courtroom for so long that she’s clearly forgotten the most bedrock legal principles,” Rebel and agent Richard Lawrence’s top tier attorneys Bryan Freedman and Sean Hardy of Freedman + Taitelman said in a filing last week. “For one, she forgot that she needs an actual case to get past the starting gate. Sheindlin doesn’t have one,” they dismissively add in the demurrer filed in L.A. Superior Court in response to Judge Judy’s hard-hitting big bucks’ counterclaims of this summer
In a what was already a long-standing bitter bruising over a series that has run its course, Rebel and Lawrence’s lawyers want that counterclaim gutted, invalidated and dismissed
“For another, Sheindlin forgot that a lawsuit is not a license to engage in the tactics of personal destruction by maliciously and falsely disparaging innocent people,” Rebel and Lawrence’s November 5 filing continues with bite (READ IT HERE).
“By filing this frivolous action, Judge Judy Sheindlin has shown her true colors: she is a cruel, petty, and vindictive person, without an ounce of empathy, decency, or tact,” the demurrer adds. “This isn’t a lawsuit. It is an insult. Sheindlin filed her hit-and-run Complaint for seemingly no other reason than to engage in the baseless character assassination of Richard Lawrence.”
Having settled a previous similar suit with CBS over hefty Judge Judy profits, Rebel, under its lucrative profit participation as the “successor in interest” to the series’ original packager talent agent Lawrence and his Abrams, Rubaloff & Lawrence firm, whacked Sheindlin with a $5 million breach of contract suit in early August.
At the time Sheindlin roasted the move and Lawrence verbally and followed on August 19 with the $22 million counterclaims suit of her own seeking declaratory relief and more. The former Manhattan family court judge promised to donate the approximately $4 million she could pocket out of the counterclaims to a cancer charity.
Today, represented by Lavely & Singer’s Marty Singer and Todd Eagan, Sheindlin held nothing back in response to the latest filing, with one of her own surely to come soon
“This is supposed to be the era of transparency,” Judge Judy told Deadline. “The misdeeds of the past confronted and corrected.”
“If I fail to produce at trial evidence that Mr. Lawrence represented no one, not me, not the clients he was supposed to represent and who we claim in my lawsuit sold down the river for the sake of a lucrative package deal for himself, then I am all the nasty names he so gratuitously calls me,” the long time TV judge added.
“Please remember that for all the vicious and condescending names he ascribes to me, my work has supported him to the tune of over 22 million dollars,” Sheindlin stated of the fees paid out to the talent agent and his reps over the more than two decades run of Judge Judy. “I neither need nor want Mr. Lawrence’s money. A trial is the search for the truth. I look forward to looking behind his settlements and NDAs and exposing it.”
The first step in that exposure, for both Sheindlin and Rebel/Lawrence, will come at a February 24 hearing in LASC on the defendant’s demurrer.
Now this is the real world, and maybe the parties will settle before February, but their sharp fighting words sure seem a long way from any hatchets being buried.