In a flurry of filings Monday, the streamer, director-showrunner Lisa Bryant, executive producer Joe Berlinger, and producers RadicalMedia LLC and Leroy & Morton Productions LLC all denied Alan Dershowitz’s claims of defamation and more made in May this year when he said he was hoodwinked into appearing in the high-profile series in 2019.
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In very similar language from their mutual attorneys at Palm Beach’s Shullman Fugate PLLC and NYC’s Davis Wright Tremain LLP, they all also denied there was any special deal to show Dershowitz’s so-called “materials” or “evidence” of his non-involvement with then-teenager Virginia Giuffre, as they looked at the widely publicized allegations that he had sex with a minor groomed by the now mysteriously dead convicted sex offender.
And, literally flipping the script, there’s more: Netflix and the other defendants have now become the plaintiffs against the Reversal of Fortune lawyer in countersuits of their own.
Slapping down Dershowitz with their anti-SLAPP moves, the Filthy Rich gang hasn’t named any specific sum they are looking for out of the Harvard Law professor emeritus. But we do know they ain’t looking for a few bucks and a bus token, if you know what I mean?
“Netflix is entitled to compensatory damages and punitive damages because Dershowitz commenced this action for the purpose (and, indeed, for the sole purpose) of harassing, intimidating, punishing, or otherwise maliciously inhibiting Netflix’s free exercise of speech and petition,” says the counterclaim filed today in federal court in Florida, where Dershowitz lives (read it here).
The Bryant-directed docuseries focused on tales from survivors of abuse at the hands of Epstein, who used his wealth, power and high-powered connections to carry out his abuses. Having slipped through the legal system on more than one occasion, but now with the personal affairs of his friends about to be revealed, Epstein apparently killed himself in a New York jail cell in 2019.
“Dershowitz was interviewed for the Series both because, as he alleges, he was part of a team defending Epstein from ‘sex crimes involving underage girls,’ …and because he was personally dragged into Epstein’s story when one of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre (“Giuffre”), accused Dershowitz of sexual assault in public court filings,” notes the counterclaims section from RadicalMedia LLC and Leroy & Morton Productions LLC and the other defendants, now plaintiffs. “Filthy Rich was never intended to, and did not in fact, focus on Dershowitz or provide a platform for a one-sided exoneration of him,” they add.
“But the Series did report on the ongoing litigation between Dershowitz and Giuffre, repeating claims frequently made by both parties in public court filings over the course of the last seven years,” the gang of producers and the streamer note of the four-parter. “Accordingly, the Series’ reporting on Dershowitz is absolutely privileged under New York Civil Rights Law § 74—a fact that Dershowitz, a self-professed expert on First Amendment freedoms, knew long before filing this lawsuit.”
The counterclaims make sure to mention that the cable news-friendly Dershowitz was threatening legal action almost from the start of his participation in Filthy Rich, even after he signed a fairly comprehensive release.
“Nevertheless, Dershowitz tried to manipulate his interaction with the Filthy Rich filmmakers so that he could control how they reported on his litigation with Giuffre,” the counterclaim explains of the docuseries, which launched on May 27, 2020. “Even before Filthy Rich was released, Dershowitz made clear that he would sue over his portrayal in the Series unless his story was told in the exact manner he wanted. And when he realized that Filthy Rich would not be used as a vehicle to tell only his side of the story, he brought this current lawsuit seeking to suppress the Leroy Defendants’ speech on matters of public concern.”
Or as Netflix themselves put it in their filing today: “Filthy Rich accurately reported on the ongoing Giuffre Litigation and Giuffre’s other public court filings. As part of this reporting, the Series showed interviews with both Dershowitz and Giuffre, referred to the Litigation between them, showed images of filings from the Litigation, and enumerated the positions of both Giuffre and Dershowitz.”
Yep, it’s going to get very messy.
Dershowitz, who filed an amended complaint on June 1, is represented by lawyers from NYC’s Nesenoff & Miltenberg LLP, Miami’s Burstyn Law PLLC and Jesse Dean-Kluger, P.A.
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