The production company behind “Dr. Phil” has filed suit against a former employee who had previously sued host Phil McGraw alleging false imprisonment, claiming that the employee lifted a video clip filmed during the show’s production in an effort to “smear” and “extort money” from the company.
In the lawsuit filed in Texas on Thursday, Peteski Productions claims that Leah Rothman, who worked on and off as a producer and director for the show from December 2003 to April 2015, accessed video shot of McGraw in 2014, as he spoke with a “Dr. Phil” production team in preparation for a take, and recorded the footage on her iPhone.
Peteski Productions allege that Rothman copied the clip onto her phone in an effort “to smear Plaintiff and extort money from Plaintiff.”
The suit, which lists a second, unnamed defendant, alleges that Rothman infringed Peteski’s copyright by copying the clip.
This isn’t the first legal go-round between Peteski and Rothman. In 2016, Rothman sued McGraw, Peteski and CBS, claiming that she was called into work on her day off and placed, along with hundreds of other “Dr. Phil” employees, in a room where McGraw told security guards to lock the doors and confronted them about a media leak about the show.
“If you f— with me, I’ll f— with you,” McGraw told the employees, according to the suit.
Rothman, who alleged false imprisonment, emotional distress and wrongful constructive termination in her suit, said that the stress created by the situation compelled her to quit weeks later,
Alleging copyright infringement, the lawsuit filed by Peteski seeks unspecified damages.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.