UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Index No. 97 Civ. 8702 (KMW)
LAWRENCE X. CUSACK, III, JENNIFER RUSH CUSACK, GENEVA ARCHIVES, INC., THOMAS G. CLOUD, CLOUD & ASSOCIATES CONSULTING, INC. and NATIONAL HISTORICAL AUTOGRAPHS, INC.,
ABC, INC., WALT DISNEY PICTURES & TELEVISION, ROONE ARLEDGE, PETER JENNINGS, LANCER PRODUCTIONS INC., MARK OBENHAUS, VANITY FAIR MAGAZINE, THE CONDE NAST PUBLICATIONS, INC., ROBERT SAM ANSON, SEYMOUR M. HERSH, THE NEW YORKER MAGAZINE, INC., ADVANCE MAGAZINE PUBLISHERS, INC., and DAVID SAMUELS,
Plaintiffs, by their attorney, Carl E. Person, as and for their complaint, respectfully allege:
4. Plaintiff Lawrence X. Cusack, III ("LCusack") inherited and/or was assigned and, together with the other plaintiffs and John Reznikoff ("Reznikoff"), arranged for the authentication and began the sale to private collectors of, one of the great historical document finds in recent decades: more than 700 pages of documents from the secret files of Lawrence X. Cusack, Sr. ("LXCSr"), the personal advisor and consultant to John F. Kennedy ("JFK"), which show, inter alia, that Marilyn Monroe ("MM") threatened to expose JFK's personal relationship with MM and other women and to make public the proof in her possession of JFK's negotiations and dealings with members of organized crime, specifically mafia chieftain Sam Giancana, who offered and achieved influence over the 1960 Presidential elections, among other activities, and that, as a quid pro quo for her silence, JFK negotiated with MM to fund a trust (the Gladys Baker Trust) for the benefit of MM's mother; that JFK and the Kennedy Family either failed to fund the trust, or illegally withdrew the funds shortly after MM's death; that JFK, RFK and Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. ("JPK") provided funding for Marilyn Monroe Productions, Inc., a film production company owned by MM and her husband Arthur Miller, which was to produce films including The Misfits and Angel and the Showman; that JFK, RFK and JPK were being investigated by J. Edgar Hoover ("Hoover") regarding their taxes, sources of individual incomes, investments and their contacts and possible business dealings with members of the mafia; and that JFK and JPK consulted with the confidential advisor and most trusted attorney for the Archdiocese of New York, at the suggestion of Cardinal Spellman, to review and advise, initially on matters of Church and State and Catholic viewpoints and how they may affect JFK's candidacy, and subsequent to the above matters, to advise on tax planning, finances and various trust and estate issues which were being affected by the earlier matters which were the subject of Hoover's investigations, in addition to numerous sensitive matters for JFK, RFK and JPK including Hoover's investigation of a first marriage and divorce of JFK and how this may be reconciled with the Catholic Church; and that these consultations, negotiations and decisions were kept secret for more than thirty years; that MM's personal attorney, Aaron Frosch ("Frosch") failed, as executor of the Estate of MM, to create and fund a trust in the amount of $100,000 for the benefit of Gladys Baker created by MM's will (included in the will despite the record which indicates that MM was destitute at the time of the execution of the will); that Frosch failed to fund the trust until forced to do so when challenged in 1976; that Frosch was a party to the negotiations between MM and JFK to have JFK provide funds for the trust and for MM's film production company and held the funds designated for the trust as well as all additional income of the estate (exceeding $1,500,000 by 1980) for his own use for over 18 years and may have been forced to return the funds to JFK after the death of MM, because the Baker Trust was never created and in addition was forced (in 1984) to return the trust funds and reimburse estate income as a result of the negotiations with LXCSr, the guardian of Gladys Baker, as an alternative to litigation (in both 1976 and 1980) brought by the beneficiaries of the Estate of MM wherein it was charged that Frosch mishandled or appropriated over one million dollars of Estate money for his own use and that as a defense and to force negotiations, Frosch may have created several typewritten documents (the authentication of which has been questioned by the defendants) wherein the above Gladys Baker Trust provisions were negotiated by MM and JFK and that the final settlement of Frosch's misappropriation of MM Estate funds was forced by Frosch's assumed threat to make public such information as well as his knowledge and proof of other matters described above; and that such disputed documents were surrendered or provided to LXCSr as a condition of, or to coerce, the settlement and that the above incidents may add to the speculation of how and why MM, JFK and RFK died under disputed circumstances.
4A. After the authentication of the Documents by a number of the countries' leading JFK handwriting experts, more particularly described below, and after seeking the advice of document dealers and various consultants in the legal and literary fields, the plaintiffs decided to pursue a publisher for a book about LXCSr and his involvement with JFK, among other subject matters. After the implications of the Documents became more realized and the enormity of the research appeared overwhelming, LCusack decided that it may be better to seek assistance in writing the planned book. LCusack was informed that defendant Hersh was already writing a book on JFK concerning similar material and as more particularly described below. LCusack agreed to make his Documents and other material available to Hersh.
4B. Hersh contracted with Defendants ABC and Lancer Productions, Inc. to produce a television documentary based on these documents and Hersh's research (described below). Hersh represented in writing to plaintiffs that he acquired extensive corroboration of the Documents and fully supported their authentication (described below). At some later date and with reasons more fully described below, Hersh and his business partners conspired to denounce the Documents, defame plaintiffs and embark on a libelous attack.
4C. Defendants claimed, as described below, that all the Documents were forged because they could argue that some of the Documents were forced (5 pages out of approximately 700 pages in 350 Documents) despite having, for over two years, full and complete documentation of the authenticity of the Documents and corroboration of witnesses to events described in the Documents.
5. Among the Documents on which Defendants based their attack are 7 or 9 JFK handwritten receipts to LXCSr for the return of "gifts" given to MM by JFK. These receipts are on LXCSr personal letterhead (not his law firm letterhead). These 7 or 9 JFK receipts (the "Zip-Code Documents") appear to have been backdated by JFK, because the personal (as opposed to attorney's) letterhead of LXCSr on which the receipts were written had a 5-digit Zip Code which had not been in use until approximately 1-2 years after the handwritten date on these Documents. These backdated Documents consist of near-identical handwritten receipts by JFK, most with a purported date of January 9, 1961, whereas Zip Codes were only announced in April, 1962 and mandatory for use in July, 1963. Also, one receipt bears the handwritten date January 9, 1963, corrected by JFK to read January 9, 1961. These Zip-Code Documents related to JFK's tax problems and/or efforts to justify, after MM's death, funds which had been withdrawn after MM's death from the Gladys Baker Trust established by JFK and other members of the Kennedy Family for MM's mother. The backdating is evidenced by the aforementioned date correction and that the receipt bears the date January 9, 1963, 6 months after MM had died.
6. Of the total of more than 700 pages of written documents, most but for perhaps a dozen have been authenticated. However, all documents offered for sale or sold to collectors were authenticated by one or more experts prior to and as a condition of any attempts by plaintiffs to offer or sell any such Documents, and all Documents sold were sold only with a total guarantee of authenticity; and to maintain secrecy of the Documents and their contents (as suggested to plaintiffs by documents experts and literary agents) the plaintiffs spread the authentication activities around among a small group of authenticators, so that no one expert saw all of the Documents being authenticated (which was less than all of the Documents, as stated previously) or the extent of the Document find.
7. To date, there have been more than 16 experts who have authenticated one or more of the 700 plus pages of Documents, and some of the unsold Documents to this date have not been authenticated.
8. Subject to two exceptions below (i.e., one 3x5 index card and a 15-page typewritten Gladys Baker trust agreement), only 5 pages (hereinafter, the "Disputed Pages") out of 700 plus Document pages have had any challenge by one or more experts prior to ABC's 20/20 story in September, 1997, even though these Disputed Pages were already authenticated by at least one other expert. The Disputed Pages relate to matters involving MM and her personal attorney, Aaron R. Frosch, known as the Attorney for the Stars ("Frosch"); are all typewritten using a typeface and apparent typewriter model not used in creating any other Documents, with such challenge to authenticity due solely to the expert claiming that the type of typewriter he assumes was used, an IBM Self-Correcting Selectric, was not available at the time the Disputed Pages were created, that the typeface was not available; that carbon ribbon was not available; and that the lift-off typewriter ribbon the expert assumes was used for lift-off corrections was not available. The "expert" ambushed plaintiffs who through subsequent research have found major inaccuracies in the report. Plaintiffs' research has found that plastic and other non-fabric typewriter ribbons were available in 1959, two years before the date of the Disputed Documents; that the IBM Selectric was available selectively as early as 1959; one or more similar type faces were available; and that correctable ribbons and "lift-off" correcting devices were available during the time period and that what looked like lift off to the expert could have been no more than key strokes without the ribbon such as by (i) by typing without realizing the carbon ribbon has run out (ii) by typing after the ribbon has snapped, (iii) by typing while at the stencil setting, and (iv) by the erratic "flicking" problem in early models. (See Paragraph 114 below for a more extensive description of some of the shortcomings of defendants' alleged expert reports.)
9. More importantly, these Disputed Pages might well be documents which were recreations of original documents which Frosch knew existed in the 1960's and which he re-created during the 1970's as MM's personal lawyer and executor of MM's estate for 25 years. These pages presumably bear Frosch's authentic signature and, if this alternative assumption is true, forged signatures of MM and JFK. These papers arguably were used fraudulently by Frosch to settle a 1980 action in which he had been accused by LXCSr (as guardian ad litem for MM's mother, Gladys Baker) and others of looting the MM estate in an amount approximating $1,500,000. LXCSr represented was appointed as guardian by Surrogate Marie Lambert who was on the Archdiocese Lay Advisors Committee, of which LXCSr was chairperson. The appointment of LXCSr by the court to be the attorney for MM's mother would be most surprising, but for LXCSr's prior dealings with matters relating to MM, MM's mother (Gladys Baker) and Frosch as detailed in part of the 700 pages of Documents. Frosch might have forged these papers and threatened the Kennedy Family with disclosure to the press unless attorney Frosch was permitted to settle the pending lawsuits for his alleged looting of MM's estate and was in fact successful in achieving a settlement for himself, in 1984, whereby he was relieved of about $1,500,000 in liabilities as executor and trustee under Monroe's will, agreed to the return of approximately $400,000 to the Estate and was permitted to remain as executor until his death years later (in 1989). Such explanation as to the Disputed Pages requires that the pages were created by or for Frosch during the late 1970's or early 1980's and is consistent with the findings (although questionable) of ABC's expert, Gerald Richards.
10. All of the above was presented to and discussed with the Defendants who were offered complete access to supporting documentation. Specifically, long before the 1997 ABC 20/20 show, LCusack discussed with the ABC Defendants LCusack's belief that the Disputed Pages had been created in Frosch's office and not in his father's office. In addition, Defendants acquired, independently, supporting documents from court records which were discussed during a meeting with plaintiffs. During said meeting, it was discussed and agreed that these disputed typewritten documents may have been created by Frosch and notes were taken by the ABC Defendants which indicate this conclusion by them.
11. One exception as mentioned in Paragraph 8 is one typewritten document (entitled "Trust Agreement" (signed by MM, JFK, RFK and JFK/RFK secretary Janet Des Rosiers) of 15 pages with a filled-in "as of" (p. 15) handwritten date "May 9, 1960" which a challenging expert (Linda Hart) claimed was written on a 1961 or later Selectric typewriter. However, this document (ABC/Lancer # 183 at least in part) has the following typed notation on the top right corner of page 1: "MASTER TAPES 1 and 2", and reference to multiple conformed originals, which indicates that the Document was one of several copies created using automatic typing equipment. The Encyclopedia Americana, copyright 1965, states that automatic typing machines came into existence before the date of the document, including the Hooven Automatic Typewriter, "attaining fairly wide commercial use" (Typewriter, p. 320); other names include the Auto-typist, manufactured by the American Automatic Typewriter Company; and the Flexowriter, "introduced during World War II, "and is now produced by Friden Incorporated". The "Robotyper was introduced "in 1935 ... under the guidance of Automatic Business Machines, Incorporated, ...[and] a model using an electric typewriter was introduced in 1937 [and] found wide acceptance in business. "A new typing machine, the Royal-typer, was introduced by the Royal McBee Corporation in 1960, [which] combines the functions of tape reading, tape punching, tape reproduction, and manual or automatic typing", citing two book authorities (both in 1954). The foregoing information was supplied to the encyclopedia by the Sales Promotion Administrator of Royal McBee Corporation (p. 320). It is not clear to plaintiffs why this 15-page Document is in any dispute as to its authenticity. It was not created, apparently, on a Selectric typewriter, but on an older non-Selectric using the IBM Prestige Pica typestyle available in the 1950's and connected with an automatic typing device. This document is obviously a form document provided by Chemical Bank & Trust Company, whose name as corporate trustee and surrounding paragraph was stricken from the document by hand.
12. The other exception is a one page 3x5 index card bearing JFK'S unchallenged handwriting on one side and LXCSr's quotations from Sherlock Holmes on the other, with the one-line heading for the typewritten material coming from a different typewriter or font than the paragraph of text below the heading. This different "pitch" (heading 10 characters per inch, and text body 12 characters per inch) obviously was not typed by or for JFK, and could have been typed by or for LXCSr at a later date, while preparing to write a book on the matter, or the subject heading may have been put on at a later time using a different typewriter. Plaintiffs do not know when the typewritten material was added.
13. Other than these handwriting or typewriting challenges to the Disputed Pages, there were no expert challenges as of the September, 1997 ABC 20/20 show to approximately 700 pages of Documents.
14. The non-challenged Documents provide evidence to fully support the authenticity of facts set forth in all of the Disputed Pages, as well as the 3x5 index card and the 15-page trust agreement.
15. All of the Documents and their authentications were made available to defendants at all times prior to their performance of the activities of which plaintiffs complain. In fact, plaintiffs fully cooperated with, encouraged and assisted defendants with whatever testing defendants could or attempted to provide to further authenticate any and all Documents and plaintiffs constantly requested to be notified of any questions or concerns which might arise. Defendants were aware of and encouraged plaintiffs' reliance on such authentications.
16. NBC was eager to do a television documentary on the Documents and had entered into an agreement with defendant Seymour M. Hersh ("Hersh") with whom plaintiffs had entered into a contract giving Hersh fair-use permission for a book and documentary on the Documents.
17. Hersh told plaintiffs that the Kennedy Family complained to NBC and parent General Electric ("GE"), through Maria Shriver (an NBC employee) to NBC and Ted Kennedy to GE, and the project was dropped, after expenditure of more than $1,000,000, and the NBC producer went with the Cusack Project to ABC and entered into another production contract (joint venture), in the name of Lancer Productions, Inc. ("Lancer") and Hersh, to do the same documentary.
17A. Arledge had a fight in the ABC board room about ABC's involvement with the project, with some members of the board questioning why, in light of Arledge's cancellation of the 1985 20/20 show on JFK/RFK/MM, Arledge wanted to acquire control of the documentary on the Cusack Papers and to some extent the papers themselves. Upon information and belief, Arledge's dating of Ethel Kennedy and his long-time friendship with Ethel Kennedy and other members of the Kennedy Family was known to the board members and played an important part in Arledge's decision, for personal reasons, to have ABC acquire an interest in the Cusack Papers, so he (through ABC) could destroy their value and historical importance in the name of "journalism".
18. Thereafter, ABC spent millions of dollars on the project, and upon information and belief, has an agreement with NBC relating to the project, presumably providing NBC with a continuing interest in the project. Arledge in fact wanted to destroy value of the Cusack from the beginning, and created Lancer to keep the dirty work away from ABC, while Arledge retained direct control over Lancer and the Cusack project.
19. Lancer/ABC retained plaintiffs as consultants to the ABC documentary but later stopped consulting with them and instead hid from plaintiffs any problems which Lancer/ABC perceived with the Documents, and failed to give plaintiffs a chance to answer objections of these two or more secret experts hired by ABC/Lancer, including one expert (Linda Hart) who stated that in her opinion the documents did not have the signatures of MM or JFK while admitting that she had no prior experience with and used no samples of MM and JFK signatures with which to make any comparison. This so-called expert was part of ABC/Lancer's ambush of LCusack on August 22, 1997.
20. Also, during August, 1997, the ABC Defendants and Hersh lured the plaintiffs (i.e., LCusack) into being interviewed on camera supposedly for use in promoting the documentary, when in fact the taping was intended for a news story to attempt to destroy plaintiffs' credibility and honesty, and to try to destroy the value of the Documents and the historical information they contain by knowingly false defamatory charges.
21. By reason of additional pressure from the Kennedy Family, or by prior, pre-acquisition plan and design, ABC converted the project from one of dealing fairly with the Documents as a great historical find and instead decided to destroy the credibility of plaintiffs, their Documents and the historical information they contain, through fraud and ambush (unprofessional) journalism practices on the unsuspecting plaintiffs.
22. The ABC Defendants did this at the request of the Kennedy Family, to take the Documents off the market (as they did in 1985 with a related and similar ABC 20/20 program: JFK/RFK/MM/mafia story), destroy the credibility of the Documents and their information, and destroy the reputation of those associated with the Documents. ABC spent millions of dollars on the Cusack project before killing the project in the aforementioned way. Hersh received compensation from both NBC and ABC on the killing of the project.
23. The ABC defendants had full awareness of the Documents and all authentications and tests, including paper watermark, ink and paper age tests, obtained by plaintiffs, and had even obtained confirming authentications by experts after getting involved with the project, but suddenly changed course without any valid reason and defamed the project and plaintiffs for reasons other than the authenticity of the Documents.
24. This was not the first time that ABC killed a story concerning MM, JFK and JFK's mafia connections. In 1985, Roone Arledge, as ABC-TV News Chief, killed a completed ABC 20/20 story about MM, RFK, JFK and JFK's affair with MM and JFK's mafia connections, a story in which evidence showed that RFK took over from JFK to have an affair with MM, was in MM's house in Hollywood and had a violent argument with her on the day she was killed, and ended with a clear implication that RFK might be responsible for MM's death. This 20/20 show cancellation occurred and was widely reported during early October, 1985 and is further discussed in a recent Little, Brown book, by Marc Gunther, entitled The House That Roone Built - The Inside Story of ABC News (at pages 204-211). Why would ABC and Arledge spend millions for the right to publish the Cusack Papers which offered additional evidence to support the thesis of the cancelled 1985 20/20 show (providing documentary evidence of motive) unless they intended to kill the story one more time?
25. The ABC Defendants defamed plaintiffs and the Documents in a widely-promoted and widely-viewed newscast for the purpose of generating other members of the media to do likewise and in order to achieve commercial gain by promoting defendants' abilities as investigative reporters in an attempt to increase its television market share and therefore its revenues. Defendants were successful as to both purposes.
26. Defendants Conde Nast and Vanity Fair consulted and conspired with Lancer, ABC and Hersh, who provided incorrect information, and Conde Nast and Vanity Fair published their article which defamed plaintiffs and their Documents without justification, and after the Vanity Fair Defendants had been provided correct information by plaintiffs and had full access through the plaintiffs to the Documents and their various authentications (who disputed the findings of ABC'S experts).
27. The Defendants, upon information and belief, wanted to generate a grand jury with respect to plaintiffs and the Documents, and succeeded, to further their efforts at destroying plaintiffs' reputations and the monetary and historic value of the Documents and to promote their commercial agenda as investigative journalists. Also, the defendants willfully damaged plaintiffs to assist in defendants' self promotion and to increase the value of their respective business interests and the moneys they could command from persons seeking to deal with them (such as advertisers and publishers).
28. Defendants have willfully ignored, and were compensated to defame and denounce, the more than 700 unquestioned pages (as of the September, 1997 ABC broadcast) and have tried to destroy the validity of the Document find (and the momentous historical events they prove or tend to prove) by creating dubious authenticity issues based on the typewriter used for the Disputed Pages, the index card, and the 15-page trust agreement when they knew that all other Documents had passed all handwriting, watermark, ink, paper-age and other tests performed by the defendants and/or as provided by the plaintiffs' independent experts, and were all supported 100% by the unquestioned documents.
28A. Even before airing of the September, 1997 ABC broadcast, the ABC Defendants commissioned or encouraged magazine editors and writers to write adverse articles about the plaintiffs and the Cusack Papers, including but not limited to the VF Defendants and the NY Defendants.
29. During October, 1997, the ABC Defendants (through Martin Smith) sought out any JFK experts who plaintiffs had retained, found one (expert John Paul Osborn), and then Smith asked ABC's expert Richards to communicate with Osborn and deter him from giving a favorable (written) opinion to plaintiffs which he had already given orally. Richards heatedly berated Osborn for going against Richards and made threats about reprisals from the industry for challenging one of its members (Richards). Osborn then rendered a written report virtually tracking the language of Richards' report to the ABC Defendants and eliminating the favorable opinions he had already provided orally to plaintiffs.
[End of Summary]
[The remainder of the Complaint up to the Jury Demand has been omitted.]
Plaintiffs hereby demand, under Rule 38(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a trial by jury of all issues triable of right by a jury.
Dated:..New York, New York
........November 21, 1997
__________/S/ CARL E. PERSON___________
Carl E. Person (CP 7637)
Attorney for Plaintiffs
325 W. 45th Street - Suite 201
New York, New York 10036-3803