8:54am PT by Eriq Gardner
Viacom Argues Alleged Rape by Former Studio Head Doesn't Add Up to Fraud
Viacom has outlined the way it intends to fight a $100 million lawsuit from Rovier Carrington, who alleges being raped by late Paramount studio head Brad Grey, sexually exploited by former MTV chief Brian Graden, tricked into a non-disclosure agreement with the promise of a production deal and blacklisted from the entertainment industry upon objection to his situation.
When the complaint was filed in May, Viacom said at the time it was taking the allegations seriously and reviewing the complaint. The media conglomerate has now concluded that it has no business being a co-defendant in Carrington's lawsuit.
On Thursday, attorneys for Viacom, Grey's estate and Graden each wrote letters to the judge asking for permission to file motions to dismiss.
Wook Hwang, a partner at Loeb & Loeb, is the most unequivocal in denying Carrington's allegations.
"This action is grounded in pure fabrication of fact," he writes. "This includes at least one email quoted in the complaint that we are informed was doctored to support Plaintiff’s bogus claims. That is just the beginning. Against the Grey Defendants, all of the claims are based on unfounded allegations that, over seven years ago, Grey sexually assaulted Carrington — an accusation made conveniently only after Grey died of cancer in May 2017, and is thus no longer able to defend himself. Notably, the complaint does not identify a single document, communication or other piece of evidence that might substantiate these accusations."
That noted, a motion to dismiss doesn't test the truth; It examines whether the allegations, even if true, support cognizable legal claims, and each of the defendants raise similar points as to why Carrington's legal claims fall short.
The big claim against Viacom is that it somehow participated in a fraud.
Representing Viacom, Stephen Fishbein at Shearman & Sterling faults Carrington with failing to identify any misrepresentation on the company's part or how Viacom substantially assisted Grey and Graden with any fraudulent scheme. Viacom also says these claims come too late.
"There is no claim — nor could there be — that Viacom or Paramount concealed this 'fraud' from Plaintiff since Plaintiff is the purported victim of a sexual assault and, if true, knew about it at the time," writes Fishbein. "Plaintiff’s fraud-based claims are therefore subject to the six-year statute of limitations and are time-barred, as they would have expired in 2017."
Viacom also rejects that it is liable for misappropriating trade secrets, as it argues that Carrington has alleged "zero facts to establish Viacom or Paramount knew about" his concept for a reality TV dating show that allegedly became the Graden-produced Finding Prince Charming.
As for an alleged boycott against Carrington, forming the basis of a Sherman Act antitrust claim, Fishbein writes Carrington hasn't come close to establishing a conspiracy.
"In broad, conclusory terms, Plaintiff asserts 'it is clear' that he was 'blacklisted by Viacom' and others, 'which comprises a substantial portion of the entertainment industry.' Plaintiff offers no facts — circumstantial or otherwise — that support the existence of this alleged agreement among diverse industry participants. In fact, Plaintiff’s chief complaint appears to be that Viacom and Paramount conspired with each other to refuse to work with him. Any such claim is plainly barred by Supreme Court precedent and its progeny that make clear that a parent company like Viacom cannot conspire with one of its subsidiaries, like Paramount."
The attorneys for Grey and Graden make similar arguments that Carrington has failed to plead plausible fraud and antitrust claims with the particularity required, with Grey's lawyer adding that the sexual assault claim is time-barred and Graden's lawyer Stanton "Larry" Stein also attacking the claim that his client tortiously interfered with Carrington's prospective business relationships in the industry including with HBO's Michael Lombardo, filmmaker Darren Stein and Peter Jacobson.
"Plaintiff’s allegations relating to Stein and Jacobson are perhaps the most shocking," writes Stein. "His only basis for Graden’s interference with this relationship is an alleged email that he quoted fully in the Complaint, purporting to be from Stein to Plaintiff and stating that Stein has decided to pass on Plaintiff’s project 'after speaking with Brian Graden' Graden has discovered that Plaintiff fabricated this email, as Stein has produced the actual email and attested to not writing those words."