Biegel’s Suit to Proceed

NEW YORK A District Court judge here today rejected Dentsu’s motion for a summary judgment in the case of Steve Biegel v. Dentsu Holdings.

The ruling, which had been expected, allows Biegel’s lawsuit against the agency to proceed, though no date has been set for further court appearances, according to a court representative.

Dentsu and Biegel are locked in a nasty legal battle that began last October when the latter sued the agency, where he had previously worked as a creative director, for sexual harassment.

The judge’s decision today was based on a request for both parties to submit evidence to support their arguments.

On Jan. 22, Dentsu in court papers claimed Biegel signed a form when he was hired acknowledging the company’s policy against sexual harassment and only complained about alleged harassment one-and-a-half years after the incidents occurred.

Among court documents Biegel filed on Jan. 17 asserting the case should proceed were statements that he does not recall being informed of a sexual-harassment policy or receiving a policies and procedures manual at Dentsu.

The case began in October when the former Dentsu exec filed his original complaint against Dentsu’s top North American executive, Toyo Shigeta, and Tim Andree, Dentsu America’s CEO, who fired the cd in November 2006.

In court papers, Biegel made lurid claims against Shigeta, alleging the former cd was forced to visit a brothel and a Japanese bathhouse and had to watch Shigeta photographing women on a Brazilian beach during agency business trips. Biegel also claimed Shigeta showed him a “crotch shot” of a fully-clothed Maria Sharapova, allegedly taken by Shigeta, without the tennis star’s knowledge, while she was on a photo shoot for Dentsu client Canon.

Dentsu executives denied the claims and in November filed the motion to dismiss, saying if Biegel believed the claims were valid, they should have been made while he was an employee or that he should have filed the suit a year earlier when he was fired. Instead, Dentsu argued in its November motion, Biegel prepared a draft of his lawsuit and showed it to two of the agency’s largest clients while he and attorney Andrew Dwyer attempted to secure a $1 million payout from Dentsu.

Attorneys for Biegel and Dentsu did not immediately return calls seeking comment.