Deutsch, Sawyer Seek Suit Dismissal

NEW YORK Lawyers for Deutsch Inc., agency chairman Donny Deutsch and company CEO Linda Sawyer filed motions last week to dismiss the lawsuit brought against them by their former colleague Steve Dworin.

Dworin, who left Deutsch in 1994, filed the suit in March in Superior Court in Union County, N.J., seeking some $56 million in damages.

The filing stems from a “non-disparagement” agreement Dworin and Deutsch had following the former’s departure from the ad agency. Dworin claims a breach of contract occurred 11 years later in Donny Deutsch’s 2005 book, Often Wrong, Never in Doubt. In the book, Deutsch described what he saw as the tumultuous working relationship between himself and Dworin.

In a separate filing, Sawyer asked for the case to be dismissed and for a change of venue for any future proceedings to U.S. District Court in New York, in part, because neither she, Deutsch nor Dworin lives in New Jersey and Deutsch Inc. is in Manhattan. Her claim also says Dworin’s lawsuit was “vengefully exploiting” the publication of Donny Deutsch’s book.

Dworin’s legal action “tries to take a contract meant for one legitimate purpose and misuse it for another illegitimate purpose,” Sawyer’s document claims. “The [1994] severance agreement was designed to terminate the parties’ relationship, not impose continued legal obligations decades into the future.”

Dworin attorney Keith Biebelberg of Biebelberg & Martin in Millburn, N.J., was not available for comment. Dworin has until July 10 to respond to these motions.

Dworin, who was reached at his home in Connecticut, said that Donny Deutsch has used a team of private investigators to find out information about him.

He was referring to an exhibit in Deutsch’s filing that cites a 2003 motion by Dworin about a child-support arrangement with his ex-wife.

“Donny’s response is one of the weakest things I’ve ever seen him produce,” Dworin said. “He has denied none of the allegations. I didn’t need a team of publicists and lawyers and private investigators to learn about Donny’s life. Donny breached a contract, and he told lies regardless of what any investigators turn up on me.”

Deutsch was unavailable for comment but his attorney, Judd Burstein, responded, “Of course, all of these allegations are denied. But our motion is by court rule limited to legal arguments.”

Sawyer was unavailable for comment, and a lawyer for her at the New York firm Kornstein Veisz Wexler & Pollard could not be reached for comment.