A DeKalb County Superior Court judge dismissed Fenuxe magazine’s attempts to add on salacious counterclaims to a lawsuit filed by Pride Medical last year alleging the glossy men’s magazine deceived advertisers about its distribution in order to charger higher rates.
DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker made the ruling Sept. 29.
“It was the ruling we expected. We had hoped it would come sooner. And now we are proceeding on the advertising fraud case with TW Media (parent company of Fenuxe) without the other distractions,” said Michael Shane Welsh, attorney for Pride Medical.
Welsh said the lawsuit alleging advertising fraud is still in discovery with likely a couple more months of investigation to take place. “We’re glad that now the case has been cleaned up by the judge so we can move forward,” he said.
Attorney Todd J. Poole, who is representing Fenuxe owner Tyler Calkins and Fenuxe, could not be immediately reached for comment. In court documents, Fenuxe has denied the allegations of fraud.
Pride Medical Inc. filed a lawsuit against Fenuxe magazine and its parent company TW Media on Nov. 8, 2013, alleging the magazine defrauded Pride Medical by exaggerating distribution numbers so it could charger higher rates for advertising.
On Dec. 9, 2013, Fenuxe and its owner, Calkins, fired back in a nasty counterclaim, denying Pride Medical’s allegations and also claiming Lee Anisman, who has since retired from Pride Medical, threatened to rape him and ruin his business.
Pride Medical [which advertises with GA Voice] and Anisman filed an objection to the counterclaim on Dec. 17, 2013, and said Fenuxe and Calkins were attempting to turn the ongoing litigation into a “Jerry Springer”-like atmosphere to avoid revealing what the lawsuit is actually about—alleged fraud by the magazine against advertisers.
In her order, Judge Becker stated, “[T]his court finds that Tyler Calkins is wholly unconnected to the action … and that the relationship between the two [Calkins and Anisman] is of a personal nature. The issues between those two parties are not related to the transaction that makes up the complaint in this action.”
PRIDE MEDICAL VS. FENUXE BACKGROUND
Pride Medical, at one time a regular advertiser in Fenuxe, claimed Fenuxe lied to advertisers about its distribution by claiming it printed and distributed 25,000 copies of the magazine every two weeks. When Pride Medical filed the lawsuit late last year the company stated it had spent some $73,000 in advertising with the magazine.
Fenuxe denied the allegations.
After being hit with the lawsuit, Fenuxe and Calkins struck back and said Anisman pursued Calkins romantically and after being rejected by Calkins, Anisman allegedly went on a “campaign to destroy” Calkins, according to court documents.
According to the counterclaim, which has now been dismissed, Anisman invited Calkins to his second home in New York City on Dec. 26, 2012, and Calkins accepted but “Calkins was still under the impression that it was for the purpose of maintaining a business relationship with a loyal customer,” the counterclaim states. The counterclaim also states Calkins stayed in the guest bedroom.
In the counterclaim, Calkins also states he became a patient at Pride Medical as part of rewarding a loyal client to the magazine and that Anisman became involved in Calkins’ care, giving him access to his personal and medical history “which he would use later to blackmail Calkins.”
The counterclaim also states Anisman has a “long fascination with gay media” and that he, Calkins and TW Media entered into an agreement to purchase an Atlanta publication [the GA Voice] and the two men co-signed for two loans. The deal later fell through, however, and Anisman began “pursuing competitive ventures,” the counterclaim alleges.
The counterclaim went on to outline allegations of Anisman’s “aggressive assaults” on Calkins, stating that “as Calkins and Anisman continued to develop their business and professional relationship, Anisman also “ratcheted up his assault on Calkins.”
For example, during a trip to Florida for an HIV conference and so that Calkins could look at his mother’s newly purchased hearing aids, “Anisman attempted to grope Calkins,” the counterclaim alleges. When Calkins said he did not want a relationship like “that,” Anisman left and got drunk, states the counterclaim.
“Throughout their relationship, Anisman threatened Calkins that if Calkins would not submit, Pride Medical would stop advertising with Fenuxe Magazine,” the counterclaim states, adding that Anisman “threatened to rape Calkins against his will.”
Calkins further claims in his counterclaim that Anisman demanded Calkins resign from Fenuxe and allow him to purchase his ownership interest for $30,000 or “Anisman would ‘destroy’ Calkins.”
Pride Medical and Anisman then went again on the offensive against Fenuxe and Calkins and in a Dec. 17 motion, accused Fenuxe of “merely attempting to create a nearly ‘Jerry Springer’-like atmosphere to this litigation, in order to embarrass Plaintiff and its owners, and to conceal and obscure public attention upon the fraud which it and Mr. Calkins apparently perpetrated upon their clients and customers, including Plaintiff.”
The Dec. 17 response also notes, “Mr. Calkins apparently denies that a dating relationship between the two men ever existed. Plaintiff [Anisman] can provide evidence that the couple took numerous pleasure trips together (a total of at least 8, to New York, Boca Raton, Miami, Palm Beach, San Francisco and Las Vegas). They exchanged literally hundreds of personal phone calls and emails. They sometimes slept in the same bed, especially on trips. They socialized with friends and family as a dating couple. They held hands in public. Their relationship had all the trappings of a dating relationship. If Mr. Calkins now denies that such relationship existed, then it appears that he merely feigned interest in Dr. Anisman and induced him into believing that such a relationship existed, presumably for financial gain.”