Lawsuits that unfold in the public eye are never pretty, and they can be pretty embarrassing for all parties involved. Hugely popular talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw and his wife have filed a big lawsuit against publishing company American Media, Inc., which owns the National Enquirer tabloid. The legal battle is incredibly ugly right off the bat, and based on the fightin' words released by both sides so far, the battle is bound to get even nastier.
Dr. Phil and wife Robin McGraw and are suing American Media, Inc. for a whopping $250 million due to alleged misrepresentation in National Enquirer, according to TheWrap. The suit claims that Enquirer articles about the McGraws were so false and sensationalized that consumers were misled into spending their money for the stories. The suit says that more than 85 pieces have been published with inaccurate and damaging information about the personal lives of the McGraws, including reports of "imminent divorce." (Given that Dr. and Mrs. McGraw are filing the lawsuit together, it's pretty safe to say that the Enquirer was at least wrong on that point.) The $250 million has been calculated as the economic value of the unauthorized usage of the McGraws' names and likenesses in the National Enquirer over the years.
The National Enquirer has certainly used inflammatory language in some of its descriptions of Dr. Phil, including accusations of sexual violence, infidelity, perversion, and verbal abuse. Stories have revolved around everything from Dr. Phil's love life in high school to past business deals to the circumstances of his divorce from his first wife. AMI has reportedly threatened to publish a drunken bar brawl in which Dr. Phil smashed a mug over the head of another man. The drunken bar brawl was dismissed in the lawsuit via a timeline that should prove that the assault could not have actually happened.
Unsurprisingly, representatives from American Media, Inc., on behalf of National Enquirer, haven't been quiet in response to the lawsuit from the McGraws. The publishing company has already released a statement expressing confidence in defeating Dr. Phil's case in court and defending Enquirer for its dedication to uncovering hard truths about prominent figures in pop culture. AMI dug out quotes from other outlets that describe Dr. Phil as a "charlatan" and "quack" guilty of exploitation and violation of trust.
Basically, the whole scenario is ugly and bound to get much, much uglier if any actual proof of anything comes out. Luckily, Dr. Phil has been up to some more positive action recently. The new CBS show Bull is based on the early career of Dr. Phil when he worked as a trial consultant, and it actually looks like a lot of fun. Michael Weatherly stars as the character based on the show host and life guru, and Dr. Phil is an executive producer as well as co-creator of the series. The McGraws can at least count on CBS not slinging any mud their way. Hopefully for their sake, their action against the National Enquirer won't result in further sensationalized reporting on their lives.