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Bravo producer Andy Cohen has landed in hot water, along with a cast member of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, a RHONJ executive, and NBC Universal. Jackie Beard Robinson, RHONJ personality Melissa Gorga's former business partner, is suing for malicious defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress-- and she wants $30 million. Here is what we know.
According to Jackie Beard Robinson, Melissa Gorga talked about Robinson during an interview on Watch What Happens Live. However, Robinson evidently thought Gorga's statements twisted the truth, particularly concerning an incident that occurred at Envy, a New Jersey clothing store she and Gorga ran between 2014 and 2016.
As the story goes, Melissa Gorga and Jackie Beard Robinson met in early 2014 and decided to open up Envy, a retail store in Montclair, New Jersey. However, the professional partnership turned sour. In the legal documents, Robinson claimed Gorga was "misappropriating over $37,000 from Envy without authorization," so Robinson went to the store in "broad daylight" on January 1 of this year to collect her belongings.
However, Jackie Beard Robinson alleged Melissa Gorga later told Andy Cohen a different story about the final days. Apparently, Gorga said Robinson "snuck into Envy in the middle of the night and stole clothing." Cohen then asked,
Wow, so, that lady wound up kinda ripping you off?
Melissa Gorga fortified Andy Cohen's suggestion and said, "Yes," which Jackie Beard Robinson said damaged her reputation as "an entrepreneur," "international fashion influencer," "blogger and style consultant." Thus, Robinson decided to seek damages to the tune of $30 million.
Next, Jackie Beard Robinson and her attorney, Larry Klayman, filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, where Robinson is a resident. Klayman and Robinson allege Andy Cohen, Melissa Gorga, and Dorothy Toran acted in concert to defame Robinson. Evidently, Florida law might make it so that Klayman and Robinson will not have to prove damages, yet PR Newswire says defamation of this type, regarding a person's work and suggesting the person committed a crime, is the worst libel or slander offense. Klayman backed up that assertion in a statement to People and said,
When you accuse someone of stealing, that's the worst kind of defamation, and it's very serious. NBC and the other defendants will pay dearly for that; they destroyed her reputation.
So far, Melissa Gorga has not spoken about the lawsuit, and her people did not respond to entertainment news outlets that reached out with questions. However, a Bravo network spokesperson said, "there is no merit to this lawsuit."
We'll have to see how the lawsuit shapes up. From the sounds of it, this case could get messy, so we'll be here with the details.