“Over three years after Mickey Rooney’s death at the age of 93, the movie icon’s widow today is suing The Hollywood Reporter for elder abuse and intentional infliction of emotional distress in a piquant complaint that alleges some very underhanded journalism on the magazine’s part.”
The lawsuit names The Hollywood Reporter itself, Prometheus Global Media, magazine staffers Scott Feinberg and Gary Baum, and Features Editor Peter Flax.
Page Six recently reported in its article, “Mickey Rooney’s widow sues Hollywood Reporter for elder abuse,” that the 79-year old and “frail” Janice Rooney is suing the magazine for wide-ranging but unspecified damages. The action stems from an article posted online by The Hollywood Reporter on October 21, 2015 titled “Tears and Terror: The Disturbing Final Years of Mickey Rooney.”
Janice says the real disturbing story is the “deceiving” Hollywood Reporter article, with which she “felt coerced and pressured” to participate. A court document citing the article says the defendants took her words “out of context and relayed in a manner designed to portray [her] in a publicly negative and personally disgraceful light”, after she agreed to talk to The Hollywood Reporter a year after her husband’s death in 2015.
Rooney contends that in agreeing to the story, she was promised that “none of the questions would be published without also publishing her answers thereto in the article.” The “Tears and Terror” piece technically satisfied that requirement with a link to the full transcript. The link is an exhibit to her lawsuit and reveals that Rooney responded, “I don’t mean to be rude, but I can’t believe that’s a serious question”, when asked if she believed around 2010 that “the government was going to put some Americans into camps and execute the elderly?”
In the article, THR [The Hollywood Reporter] defendants repeated the essence of the slightly reworded false and humiliating allegations and innuendos brought to them by Charlene against Jan, the complaint in LA Superior Court states with reference to Janice’s daughter-in-law, who’s also named as a defendant in the multi-claim complaint. “Astonishingly, there were no allegations against Jan of abusing Mickey in either the restraining order filed on February 14, 2011, or the September 15, 2011 lawsuit filed against Chris and Christina Aber and others,” the eighth Mrs. Rooney said. She also said there were no elder abuse claims, since the settled 2011 action by her husband of almost four decades’ court-appointed conservator Michael Augustine against her eldest son and his spouse in the family civil war suit.
Chris Aber managed Mickey’s business affairs for several years before his younger brother Mark and his wife Charlene took over as Rooney’s caregivers—which started a new battle over the actor’s finances, legacy and name. As a part of that litigation, Janice was accused of physically abusing Mickey in his later years, something she says was a misunderstanding.
“The conduct on the parts of the THR Defendants alleged herein was done by these defendants with knowledge of Jan’s advanced age, and her frail and vulnerable physical and emotional condition, as well as the sensitive nature of the subject matter, all of which they, themselves, acknowledged, “the suit says of a supposedly months-in-the-making piece that Mrs. Rooney claims went to print mere weeks after she first spoke to THR. “Despite this knowledge, however, the THR Defendants nonetheless engaged in the conduct alleged herein, whereby they took advantage of Jan’s vulnerability and frail condition, and threatened and coerced her, for their own personal gain,” was stated in the complaint.
Mickey’s last prolonged public appearance was in 2011, when he testified before Congress that he’d “suffered silently” for years as a victim of elder abuse. A 2013 $2.8 million judgment in his favor in the case against Chris and Christina Aber was never received by Rooney, who died while insurance companies were litigating which of them would pay.
The complaint also names Mark Aber and Christina Aber as defendants.
Reference: Page Six (October 6, 2017) “Mickey Rooney’s widow sues Hollywood Reporter for elder abuse”