JANUARY 6, 2011 THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
 

'Housewife' Gretchen Rossi ordered to pay $40K

by RICHARD CHANG
 

View full-size article

Gretchen Rossi, one of 'The Real Housewives of Orange County,' has been ordered to pay $40,799 to former beau Jay Photoglou to cover his legal fees.

Judge Gregory Munoz of Orange County Superior Court determined Wednesday that Rossi, 33, must pay Photoglou the $40K, since the judge threw out the defamation part of her lawsuit against him, and Photoglou spent about $85,000 defending himself.

Photoglou and his attorney, Bryan J. Freedman, had filed an Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Policy) motion in Rossi's case against him, arguing that Photoglou had the freedom of speech rights to say he was once her boyfriend. The Anti-SLAPP motion prevailed.

'It's a phenomenal result,' Freedman said Thursday. 'It's such a powerful motion. Anytime you can get your attorney's fees from someone who files a lawsuit against you รณ it's a good day.'

Rossi and her attorney, Gregory Brown, did not return calls for comment.

Rossi and Brown tried to challenge the $40K amount, but were unsuccessful, according to Freedman and eonline.com.

Freedman said he expects Rossi to appeal Judge Munoz's ruling, and predicts that he'll collect attorney's fees for that action as well.

Rossi has already paid Photoglou $22,375, because an earlier civil lawsuit against Photoglou, which included a temporary restraining order, was dismissed with prejudice.

Though the defamation portion of her current suit has been excised, she may continue forward with other claims, including assault, battery, stalking, breach of contract, conversion, intentional emotional distress, intentional interference with contractual relations and intentional interference with prospective economic relations. You can read more about Rossi's suit against Photoglou here.

Meanwhile, Photoglou, 40, of Huntington Beach, has his own suit against Rossi filed in O.C. Superior Court, alleging libel, slander, invasion of privacy/false light, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conversion.

The disagreements between 'Housewife' Rossi and Photoglou stem from his claims that he was her secret ex-boyfriend when she was engaged to another man, Jeffrey Beitzel, who died from leukemia in September 2008. Their courtship and his final days were documented in season 4 of the reality TV series.

Season 6 of 'The Real Housewives of Orange County' is expected to start airing on Bravo in March.