Gruner + Jahr Printing and Publishing Co. said in court papers Tuesday that O'Donnell's decision to quit Rosie magazine has or will cost them "in excess of $100 million dollars in damages." The filing claims O'Donnell, who announced Sept. 18 she was quitting the magazine, breached her contract with G+J and publicly disparaged the magazine.
O'Donnell's spokeswoman, Cindi Berger, said that O'Donnell will also seek justice from the court.
"Rosie plans on fighting this aggressively. Her name and integrity is at stake," Berger said. "She will be countersuing."
G+J's decision to file a lawsuit had been anticipated. The publisher and O'Donnell had been feuding for months about the direction of the magazine. After O'Donnell announced she was leaving the magazine, the publisher made it clear that it held O'Donnell to blame for the collapse of the business arrangement.
Rosie debuted in April 2001, as part of a partnership to revive struggling McCall's magazine. The joint venture gave O'Donnell and G+J each a 50 percent stake in the business.
During the six months ending June 30, Rosie's total average paid circulation was 3.5 million, slightly below the 3.6 million total average paid circulation recorded in the previous six months, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. It had the 13th highest magazine circulation nationwide for the first half of 2002, according to Advertising Age magazine. But there had been some concern that newsstand sales were vulnerable, and O'Donnell and G+J had reportedly repeatedly argued about what the magazine's cover should look like.
G+J, the international newspaper and magazine arm of German media giant Bertelsmann, also publishes Parents, Fitness, Fast Company and Family Circle magazines.