'CSI' Co-Creator Ann Donahue Sued Over Breakup With Domestic Partner

Anne McGrail claims she backed off on her own Hollywood career to take care of the couple's children.
AP Images
Ann Donahue, pictured with David Caruso (left) and Anthony Zuiker (right)

The former domestic partner of CSI co-creator Ann Donahue is asking a court to consider an oral agreement between the two and allow an investigation into the couple's finances.

The lawsuit was filed by Anne McGrail on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The plaintiff is credited with being a consulting producer and writer of several episodes of the CSI franchise her former domestic partner created along with Carol Mendelsohn and Anthony Zuiker.

McGrail also worked on such shows as Boomtown and Guardian, and says her relationship with Donahue began in 1998.

Nearly five years into the relationship, around the time that The New York Times published an article how Donahue had become the highest-paid female writer in television drama, the two are said to have discussed having children.

"At that time, [McGrail] and [Donahue] discussed whether all of the financial resources available to the couple would be sufficient to support an expanded family if [McGrail] were to no longer seek or accept employment as she had in the past," the complaint states. "They discussed those concerns and [Donahue] assuaged [McGrail]'s worries by assuring her that the couple's resources, including the financial success of the CSI franchise, would be more than enough to support an expanded family."

The two are said to have come to an oral agreement whereby McGrail would be the primary caregiver and restrict her career activities, while Donahue would be the primary earner for the family. The two allegedly agreed they'd share equally in property acquired as life partners.

"In 2003, when California began to legally recognize same sex domestic partnerships, Plaintiff and Defendant formally registered as domestic partners, affirmatively recognizing their long-standing, stable, and committed relationship,'' the suit adds. (Here's the full complaint.)

The two were separated in 2013 after the couple had three children, according to the lawsuit, which also asserts that McGrail helped Donahue fulfill obligations associated with CSI and gave up credits and compensation McGrail was allegedly entitled to get per industry standards.

The lawsuit says that Donahue filed a petition for the dissolution of the domestic partnership and the couple participated in mediation. In April, the couple is said to have figured out what to do about custody arrangements for the children going forward, but the finances need to be resolved. Donahue has moved assets from the couple's joint bank account, which the lawsuit says is also a breach of the oral deal.

"By letter dated June 17, 2015 from Defendant's family law counsel to Plaintiff's family law counsel, Defendant disavowed Plaintiff's pre-registration domestic partnership property rights and affirmatively refused for the first time to financially support Plaintiff," states the lawsuit.

Represented by Marshall Grossman, McGrail is asserting a breach of contract and promissory estoppel and asking for an accounting and a declaration of a legally binding agreement and a division of assets and liabilities "as would a division of community property be treated."

The defendant couldn't be reached for comment.

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