Rebecca, the multi-million dollar gothic poperetta that failed to materialize on Broadway, continues to haunt those close to its demise. It seemed as though the final chapter in one of Broadway’s biggest scandals reached its conclusion May 10, when a jury found the show’s former publicist Marc Thibodeau liable of tortious interference.
Rebecca producers Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza sued Thibodeau after he sent emails under a fabricated name that pointed an anonymous investor to published reports of fraud involving some of the investors behind the show. The respected Broadway publicist maintains that he acted as a well-intentioned whistle-blower.
The jury found Thibodeau not liable on the defamation count, and only cited him $90,000 in damages for tortious interference—significantly less than the $10 million initially sought by the show's producers.
In a motion filed May 31 with the New York State Supreme Court, however, Sprecher and Forlenza requested that the jury’s award on damages be set aside, stating it was “inconsistent with the evidence and has no rational basis.”
Rebecca’s lead producers, who still owe their investors millions, are petitioning for a new trial that will be solely focused on the question of damages for the tortious interference verdict.
The memorandum continues: “The jury could have accepted some or all of Plaintiff’s evidence of damages. Or it could have rejected Plaintiff’s evidence and awarded nothing, as Defendant argued it should have. What the jury could not do was pick a number out of thin air, unconnected to any of the evidence or argument presented. Yet that is precisely what happened....Under these circumstances, the Court should set aside the jury’s verdict and direct a new trial on the question of damages for the tortious interference claim.”
Lawyers for Thibodeau told Playbill, “We feel that the damages were calculated and determined carefully by a smart and competent jury, after days of deliberations. They thoughtfully considered the ample proof presented over the course of almost three weeks and reached a just amount. The fact that the plaintiff is unhappy with the jury's decision does not mean it was a wrong or arbitrary decision.”