Relativity Faked Memo Accusing Executive of Sexual Harassment, Judge Rules
Adam Fields has been awarded $8.44 million, which he is now seeking as a creditor in the current bankruptcy proceeding.
Adam Fields, who worked briefly as co-president of Relativity Media in 2016, has been awarded $8.44 million by an arbitration judge who ruled that a Relativity memo in which seven women claimed they had been sexually harassed by Fields had been fraudulently created.
The memo resulted from a breach-of-contract suit that Fields filed against Relativity and its founder Ryan Kavanaugh in Los Angeles Superior Court in early 2017 that went to a JAMS arbitration. Documents from that case also were filed May 29 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, where Relativity is currently seeking approval to sell most of its assets to Ultra V Holdings and where Fields is now a creditor.
"Without breaching the confidentiality of the arbitration, we cannot respond except to say it is skewed and inaccurate," a spokesman for Kavanaugh said. "This is nothing more than a desperate attempt by Adam Fields who lost against Mr. Kavanaugh 100 percent. Relativity would have appealed had Mr. Fields won anything of value, he won on a sole count of breach of contract and Relativity decided it was not worth an appeal as he will not even receive $100,000, let alone the absurd $8 million quoted."
According to the presentation by Fields’ attorneys, at the arbitration, Relativity produced a memo which it said had been authored by Relativity’s then-managing director Carol Genis and which claimed that Fields had sexually harassed at least seven unnamed women, including one whom he allegedly promised a promotion in exchange for sex.
But, testifying at the arbitration, Genis denied she had authored the memo and said she was unaware of any complaints of sexual harassment against Fields. Kavanaugh's spokesperson alleges, "She was and continues to work directly with Mr. Fields behind the scenes in an attempt to collect money from Relativity for herself."
The judge ruled that “the evidence was overwhelming and undeniable that Relativity falsified the Genis memorandum,” and he pointed a finger at Kavanaugh himself, noting that the memo had been modified by a user who signed in as “kav kav,” noting that must be Kavanaugh.
Fields, who first worked for Relativity as a producer on the 2011 film Limitless, was named a co-president of Relativity in late 2015 as it emerged from an earlier bankruptcy with, the court filing says, "a four-year contract worth in excess of $10 million." But his attorneys allege that when he began work at the company in 2016, he found himself in "a hostile work environment" where "his job was superfluous."
Fields was fired in a Sept. 8, 2016, letter which said he was terminated for violating confidentiality agreements by making "disparaging statements to multiple third parties including the press without authorization." Fields' attorneys assert he had simply shared a seven-second elevator ride with a reporter. The termination letter contained no mention of any sexual harassment complaints.
Two weeks before the hearing, however, Relativity produced 2,000 pages of new documents, including the memo alleging harassment. Kavanaugh claimed that he had found the memo in a private folder belonged to Genis, who was no longer with the company. Fields brought in a forensics expert who testified that Kavanaugh had falsified the document, after Fields had been fired, and just days before it was produced in court. The arbiter agreed that "the metadata refutes all of Relativity’s theories linking the memorandum to Genis," saying that "by falsifying the memorandum to manufacture evidence that it had cause to terminate Fields, Relativity admitted that it otherwise lacked cause."
The judge awarded Fields $1,162,500 for the remaining unpaid portion of his company’s consulting services; $171,153 for the remaining portion of his base salary; $900,000 for its discretionary bonus; $287,452 for the unpaid portion of his car allowance; and $5.5 million for Ralativity’s repurchase of his vested profit interest. The arbitrator's partial award was later increased to $425,000 for attorneys' fees, interest on past due amounts and a present value discount for those payments due in the future. The resulting total amounted to $8.446 million.
In their filing, Fields' attorneys claim, "It is clear that Relativity and Mr. Kavanaugh tried to exploit the current #MeToo moviement to destory Mr. Fields' reputation with false and fabricated accusations."
Responded Kavanuagh's spokesperson: "This arbitration was not about Adam's sexual harassment or predatory behavior. To attempt to mute the accounts of multiple women, which took a lot of courage and with a lot to lose by sharing their own independent accounts of what can only be described as horrific and predator-like behavior by Adam Fields against them, by inferring this arbitration was in any way related to those accusations is truly sick and just wrong."
June 4, 7:25 p.m. Updated with responses from Kavanaugh's spokesperson.