Everyone remembers Valerie Harper as the lovable Rhoda from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, so it was painful to hear that she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2012. However, that wasn’t her only problem. Little did she know that she would be SUED for not revealing this devastating news to playwright Matthew Lombardo and producers of the show “Looped”, which she starred in.
It has been reported that after seeing a doctor for memory loss and slurred speech, Valerie, age 74, failed to tell Lombardo that she had cancer and only 3 months to live. She dropped out of the play for health reasons, but without enough time for Lombardo to find a replacement.
After suing him for not receiving the rest of her salary from the play, he turned around and filed a $2 million counterclaim at Manhattan Federal Court. Lombardo stated that she was aware that she had cancer and refrained from telling them, which cost him $500,000.
I had some questions concerning this issue and asked Entertainment Lawyer Domenic Romano if he had any answers for me.
CB: Do the producers have an actual case against Valerie?
DR: Yes. Unfortunately they do. Her and her husband signed on and didn’t say anything (about having cancer). Millions of dollars are involved, so if there’s an accident, they have to disclose.
CB: Do you think a line should be drawn between legal issues and social ethics?
DR: Well, that’s not the situation in this case. If she wouldn’t have sued for back pay, he would have never countersued.
CB: Do you think it could have been handled differently, and if so, what could have been done?
DR: Yes, it could have been handled differently. It’s a PR nightmare on both sides. They should have settled and discussed everything behind closed doors. Unfortunately, the parties should just settle.
Lombardo’s lawyers also issued a press release stating, “Although Mr. Lombardo has tried to resolve this as a gentleman and not run to the press, he was given no choice but to defend himself as would anyone in his position.”