Rosie O'Donnell seeks $8 million in legal fees

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 14 2003 1:00 AM ET

Rosie O'Donnell said she will try to recover $8 million in legal fees from her battle with the publisher of her now-defunct magazine, now that a judge has indicated that neither side will win any money. But an attorney for publisher Gruner + Jahr USA cautioned Thursday that the fight isn't over. "The judge hasn't made any final ruling," Martin Hyman said on the Today show. Each side blamed the other for the 2002 demise of Rosie magazine, and each sought nine-figure damage awards in their civil lawsuits--a tussle that state supreme court justice Ira Gammerman called "ill-conceived." "It seems to me that neither side has proved any damages," Gammerman said Wednesday after lawyers for G+J and the former television host rested their cases following a two-week nonjury trial.

Outside court Wednesday, O'Donnell declared, "I'm very happy that it's over.... The story of this case is not who won or lost but how many times peace was offered and war was chosen by the other side." Later, outside the Broadway theater where her musical Taboo, starring 1980s pop star Boy George, opens Thursday, O'Donnell said she was upset about wasting so much money on legal fees. O'Donnell's lawyer, Lorna Schofield, told Today she was "working very hard" to recover the money. Hyman said he disagrees that the publisher's case lacked merit, repeating assertions that the magazine shutdown cost G+J tens of millions of dollars: "What the judge said was that he did not think that either party could prove damages to his satisfaction in view of the fact that the magazine had never been profitable. That's what he said, and we will address that issue as we go down the road."

Rosie, a magazine reminiscent of Oprah Winfrey's successful publication, O, debuted amid much optimism two years ago, but a bitter battle for editorial control ensued in late summer 2002 as Rosie's sales declined.