No winners in Rosie trial

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 13 2003 1:00 AM ET

A judge ruled Wednesday that neither Rosie O'Donnell nor the publisher of her former magazine deserves damages in their dispute over the publication's demise. Minutes after both sides rested in the case, state Supreme Court justice Ira Gammerman issued his surprising ruling to conclude the bench trial. "It seems to me...we're just dealing with bragging rights here, who wins and who loses,'' Gammerman said. With his ruling, neither side wins--although O'Donnell could still ask for publisher Gruner+Jahr USA to cover her legal fees.

Gammerman said there was no evidence or testimony during the contentious trial indicating that either side had caused the other to suffer damages. Both parties invested money, the magazine lost money, and then it folded, he said. "There's no evidence that the magazine would have made any money at all," he said. O'Donnell, the comedian and former talk show host, quit Rosie magazine in mid September 2002, and the magazine, which began publishing in April 2001, folded with the December 2002 issue. The publishers sued O'Donnell for $100 million, alleging breach of contract for walking away. She countersued for $125 million, saying G+J broke its contract with her by cutting her out of key editorial decisions and manipulated the magazine's financial figures.

Among the bitter testimony in the case was testimony by Cindy Spengler, a cancer survivor on the Rosie staff, who said O'Donnell implied she had lied about goings-on at the magazine and that liars get cancer. Outside the courtroom O'Donnell said she had called Spengler the next morning and apologized for the cancer comment. Also on the stand, the chief financial officer of G+J USA admitted that he recommended manipulating the magazine's financial figures in order to keep O'Donnell on board.