The case involving McCann Health and its now-former global chief creative officer Jeremy Perrott entered its latest stage this week as agency and parent company IPG followed a federal judge’s suggestions to re-file their motion to dismiss the defamation suit he filed in late October.
Perrott was fired last summer after an investigation into behavioral violations involving comments he allegedly made to female colleagues.
He is seeking $25.4 million in damages for what the suit called “cowardly lies that poison and kill a man’s reputation” and continues to deny the allegations made against him. The initial filing attributed his firing to the “unjust corporate culture of #MeToo and #TimesUp appeasement” and compared his case to that of former Martin Agency CCO Joe Alexander, who it described as another victim of this “toxic policy.”
On Jan. 2, Judge Robert E. Payne of the Eastern District of Virginia denied McCann’s motion to dismiss but left open the possibility of re-filing “separate, non-alternative Motions to Dismiss,” which the groups proceeded to do this Monday.
A representative for the New York law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, which is representing IPG and McCann, told AgencySpy that the re-filing was simply a matter of following the judge’s instructions in the interest of clarity.
The full memorandum in support of the motion argues that the case has no merits on two fronts: one, that it was filed in Virginia despite the fact that neither the plaintiff (who is a citizen of the United Kingdom and a resident of Hong Kong and Australia) nor the defendants “have any sufficient connection to the District,” and two, that the complaints made regarding Perrott are true and constitute clear violations of IPG’s behavioral policies. (One of the documents included as evidence is a copy of the company’s full corporate handbook.)
Those complaints, which have been previously reported, include claims that he told one woman in the New York office she had a “nice rack” and another that she had a “nice ass.”
According to the filing, Perrott “admits” that he was “first advised of a complaint made against him by a female colleague” in New York in February 2018 and that he was also “made aware by colleagues there of ‘chatter’ among junior employees regarding his behavior” during a subsequent trip in mid-June.
The following week, he met with HR to be informed that “numerous people had complained about his behavior and that Human Resources was investigating at the instruction of McCann’s management team.” The day after this meeting and a “thorough investigation,” McCann terminated Perrott.
Campaign learned of his firing one month later and broke the news with a statement from McCann PR.
The filing states, in a footnote, that Perrott “unsurprisingly … denies he made these comments.”
“However,” it continues, “he appears to take issue with them not because of their offensive nature, but because ‘[a]s someone who lived in Australia for many years, this is not a phrase that [Plaintiff] would ever use.'” The note goes on to state that “Plaintiff touts his gratuitous (and entirely inappropriate) use of expletives in the workplace … as if it gives him license to use inappropriate language with his colleagues.”
The rest of the memorandum consists of IPG arguing that the case should be moved out of Virginia.
“Although IPG is confident that this matter is lacking in substance, this Court need not reach the merits, as the Court lacks jurisdiction over IPG,” it reads. It is unclear precisely why Perrott chose to file the case in Virginia, though his suit did mention the legal concept of “general jurisdiction,” or a court’s ability to handle any sort of case that falls within its geographic area. It also noted that The Martin Agency is based in Virginia.
The IPG lawyers’ filing, however, states that the incidents leading to the suit allegedly took place in New York, as did the subsequent investigation.
A McCann spokesperson declined to comment. Perrott’s Virginia-based lawyer has not responded to multiple emails seeking comment on this motion, nor has he answered emails or phone calls requesting additional statements on the case since it became public in October. At the time of the initial filing, Perrott did not respond to messages sent to his work email address or his LinkedIn account.