Marvel CEO Entangled in Bizarre Lawsuit

Marvel comic books GETTY - H 2016
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The legal battle between Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter and his neighbor could put fight sequences in the Disney-owned studio's action movies to shame — especially if privileged corporate emails are brought to light as part of discovery in the ongoing lawsuit.

Perlmutter's Palm Beach neighbor Harold Peerenboom sued in 2013, claiming anonymous hate mail "falsely accusing him of loathsome crimes, including murder and sexual assault against a minor" has been sent to his friends, family and business associates across North America.

The lawsuit claims the fight started over the tennis club in Sloan's Curve, the private Palm Beach neighborhood in which the men live, and whether the tennis center management contract had to be submitted to a public bid process.

Peerenboom claims he and his wife were ostracized from the community before the anonymous letter campaign started, and have been threatened since initiating the lawsuit.

The suit claims an October 2013 mailing falsely purports to be from Peerenboom, portrays him as a "self-confessed child molester and homosexual pedophile" and is "filled with anti-Semitic invective and hateful sentiment, as if Peerenboom were endorsing Nazi Germany's 'Final Solution' and seeking to commit murder and other violence against the Jewish people as vengeance for the prior anonymous letters."

This fight is happening on two fronts. In Palm Beach, Peerenboom is suing for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, tortious interference and civil conspiracy. In New York, Peerenboom has subpoenaed Marvel for emails as part of discovery in the Florida suit.

The New York Times reports there is a hearing in the case Wednesday in New York that will examine which emails were and were not produced by Marvel in response to a court order that the company must search its servers for Perlmutter's emails that mention Peerenboom.

In court documents, Marvel's attorney Richard C. Tarlow argues that "after conducting discovery into Mr. Perlmutter's personal files, personal electronic devices, and personal email addresses, Petitioner has failed to adduce evidence to support his claims in the main Florida action."

In August, the office of the CEO's attorney Roy Black sent a letter to Peerenboom's attorneys calling their proposed subpoena to Marvel overbroad and "a blatant attempt to harass Mr. Perlmutter's business activities at Marvel."

Then in February, attorneys asked the court to enter a protective order to preclude Marvel Entertainment from disclosing privileged documents and communications.

"The razor-thin band of information contained in those communications that is even arguably relevant to the Florida Action ... can be obtained from other non-confidential sources, while the bulk of those communications consists of highly sensitive financial information that is protected under Florida law and has no bearing on this case," states the request.