Judge: No Damages Due in Rosie Magazine Trial

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It appears neither Rosie O'Donnell nor Gruner + Jahr USA Publishing will emerge victorious in dual breach-of-contract lawsuits brought about by the demise of Rosie magazine, according to statements made yesterday by New York state Supreme Court Justice Ira Gammerman.

Though he will not hand down his ruling until sometime after written summations from both sides are submitted next month, Gammerman indicated that neither entity had proved deserving of damages shortly after testimony ended yesterday.

The trial originally was scheduled to end Monday but continued yesterday, after a break for the Veterans Day holiday, in light of testimony during which Gruner + Jahr CFO Lawrence Diamond admitted that the company managed financials in order to continue publishing due to a clause in the agreement with O'Donnell that said if the magazine lost more than $4.2 million in a fiscal year she could leave.

The court battle began Oct. 30, and each side tried to prove that the other violated the agreement that produced Rosie, a joint venture between the two parties that replaced the ailing McCall's magazine in April 2001. Termination of that agreement was announced Sept. 18, 2002, after months of feuding between the two sides over editorial control of the publication. The final issue of Rosie appeared on newsstands in November 2002.

G+J filed a $100 million lawsuit against O'Donnell for pulling out on Oct. 1. O'Donnell countered two days later with a suit against G+J for $125 million.

In a news conference outside the courthouse, O'Donnell claimed to be happy that the case was over and said she would not discuss G+J in the future.

O'Donnell had stated publicly that she would not appeal the decision no matter the outcome.

However, she can and will ask for payment of her legal fees.

The publisher issued a statement saying in part that it has been "completely exonerated of any and all of the charges of impropriety alleged by the O'Donnell camp in their effort to muddy the water."

G+J also respectfully voiced its disagreement with Gammerman's opinion that "neither side was entitled to damages based upon his assessment that the magazine would never have been profitable."

It is unclear whether the publisher will appeal the final ruling.


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