5:03pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Ryan Kavanaugh Hit With Fraud Suit From Ex-Relativity Co-President
Ex-Relativity Media co-president Adam Fields claims he's "the latest in a very long line" of people who have been duped by Ryan Kavanaugh, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Fields claims that when he began working for Relativity, the company was dysfunctional and operated like "the cantina scene in Star Wars" — and he was shocked to learn Relativity's "big digital initiative" was an investment into a porn website. He says he discovered the latter when a group of "models" showed up for a meeting with Dana Brunetti.
According to the suit, Fields says Kavanaugh convinced him to come on board at Relativity by assuring him the company was sufficiently capitalized following its reorganization to continue producing and distributing content. He signed on for a four-year, multimillion-dollar deal, but Fields says just months later the company was on the verge of bankruptcy and Kavanaugh abandoned ship.
"The fact that Kavanaugh knowingly misrepresented Relativity's financial outlook is evident in recent news about the beleaguered company," writes attorney Dale Kinsella in the complaint. "By all appearances, all business at Relativity has ceased, and a further bankruptcy filing seems imminent."
Further, Fields says Kavanaugh never intended to keep his deal for the long term — especially if he could find someone with a higher profile to run the studio. Someone like Brunetti. When Brunetti signed on, Fields says, "Kavanaugh was like a boy who had found a prettier girl." According to the complaint, from that point on Relativity executives created a hostile work environment in the hopes that Fields would quit.
In the suit, Fields recalls a business affairs meeting in which Brunetti "made vulgar, loud insults" toward him and threatened him, saying, "I'll f—ing crush you."
Eventually, Fields claims, the company just made up a reason to fire him. He was terminated in September, reportedly due to breach of contract.
"The sole basis for the termination was a trumped-up claim that Fields had leaked confidential company information to an entertainment reporter during a seven-second elevator ride," writes Kinsella. "The charge is not only false, but also ironic and incredibly disingenuous given Kavanaugh's history of obsessively planting stories in the press to further his agendas and vendettas."
Fields is suing for fraud and negligent misrepresentation and is seeking punitive and exemplary damages.
A representative for Kavanaugh sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement Wednesday saying they are shocked at Fields' audacity: "Clearly he will say and do anything as evidenced by his own recent admission that he called in a bomb threats to stop a director from getting on a plane. This is coming from someone who Relativity helped because he begged for a job, and Adam was then accused of sexual harassment on the job Relativity gave him which Relativity had to settle. This is clearly nothing more then a shakedown. The site he refers to as 'porn' was part of a relativity acquisition led by its then CMO Angela Courtin and the business plan and strategy led by Colbeck. Clearly he picked the wrong profession as with his imagination he should be writing fiction."
A source close to Courtin said that she had nothing to do with the website and it was acquired by Kavanaugh's company.
Brunetti also sent THR a statement. "The 'porn' site referred to is egotastic, which I had nothing to do with and predates my time at Relativity," he says. "Unfortunately, I never once met with any models for a photo shoot. Though having a little insight into how Adam Field's thinks, I am not surprised he could have that fantasy about me."