A judge threw out the bitter, rapey rebuttal of Fenuxe magazine to a lawsuit from a former advertiser while the gay Atlanta glossy also faces two new lawsuits over a $165,000 loan and $50,000 in credit card debt.
On Monday, Lee Anisman – the retired CEO of Pride Medical – filed a federal lawsuit against Fenuxe Publisher Tyler Calkins (photo) alleging that he's failed to pay back a $165,000 loan Anisman co-signed in 2013. On Sept. 17, American Express sued Calkins and Fenuxe for failing to pay a $50,422 credit card debt. And on Sept. 29, a Superior Court judge threw out a countersuit Fenuxe filed in response to an ongoing lawsuit from Anisman and Pride Medical alleging that the magazine fluffed its circulation numbers and defrauded advertisers.
The legal wrangling started in November when Pride Medical sued Fenuxe, alleging that the magazine misrepresented its circulation numbers, over-charged it for advertising and stopped running some of its ads even though it kept paying for them. The lawsuit asked DeKalb Superior Court judge Cynthia Becker to compel Fenuxe and parent company TW Media Group to provide an accounting of its circulation and distribution, and to award damages for breach of contract, attorneys fees and “for such other relief as may be shown at trial.”
Fenuxe responded on Dec. 9 with a bitter, rapey rebuttal that refuted the allegations and a countersuit personally attacking Anisman. It claimed that Anisman tried to turn a platonic business relationship into a personal one with Calkins. When that failed, according to the countersuit, Anisman became sexually aggressive and launched a campaign to “destroy” Calkins and the magazine.
In turn, Pride Medical responded on Dec. 17 with a 19-page filing accusing Fenuxe and Calkins of attempting to embarrass Pride Medical and “maliciously injure” Anisman. The magazine also asked Becker to seal the case from public view. In February, Fenuxe attorney Todd Poole sued Pride Medical alleging that it released the HIV status of hundreds of patients. The medical practice, in turn, sued the magazine for the return of documents with patient information and HIV status.
On Sept. 29, Becker dealt Fenuxe a setback by tossing out its countersuit against Pride Medical and leaving in place the original lawsuit from Pride Medical alleging circulation fraud.
“This court finds that Tyler Calkins is wholly unconnected to this action,” Becker wrote in her order. “From the pleadings presented by both parties, the only relationship Calkins has is to the other party that the Defendant seeks to add Dr. Lee Anisman, and the relationship between the two is of a personal nature. The issues between those two parties are not related to the transaction that makes up the Complaint in this action.”
Calkins and Fenuxe, in their countersuit, accused Anisman of blackmail, infliction of emotional distress, assault, defamation and breach of contract. They also accused Pride Medical of tortious interference and violating the state's racketeering law. Calkins also claimed that during a trip to Florida with Anisman that “Anisman attempted to grope Calkins, who rejected Anisman, telling him that he did not want a relationship like 'that.' Anisman then became angry and left to get inebriated.” Throughout their romantic relationship, Calkins alleged that “Anisman threatened to rape Calkins against his will, stating, 'I will make you a bottom.'” Calkins alleged that the ordeal caused such emotional distress that he had to be hospitalized for “extreme anxiety.”
Becker didn't entertain the salacious countersuit from Fenuxe and Calkins.
“This Court finds that the counterclaims that the Defendant seeks to add are claims pertaining to the relationship between the parties that this Court did not allow to be added to this action. This Court finds that none of the counterclaims stem from the contract at issue, or the accounting. Therefore, the counterclaims are immaterial and impertinent to the matters pending before this Court,” Becker wrote.
Lawsuits over $165,000 loan, $50,422 debt
In addition to the ongoing lawsuit from Pride Medical, Calkins faces the new federal suit that Anisman filed on Monday. Anisman claims that he co-signed a $165,000 SunTrust loan in August 2013 to finance the purchase of the GA Voice by Calkins. When that acquisition fell through, Anisman alleges in the lawsuit that Calkins misused the funds.
“[Calkins] used the funds for his own personal expenses and for expenses related to his magazine Fenuxe,” according to the lawsuit. “He made several payments to SunTrust on the loan but stopped making any payments on the SunTrust Loan after January 2014.”
Now, Anisman alleges in the lawsuit, he's been “forced” to take over payments on the loan. The lawsuit alleges that Calkins breached a contract with Anisman to use the loan to purchase the GA Voice, refused to repay it and converted it to cover personal expenses. It demands an accounting of the loan funds and damages of at least $165,000.
Anisman's lawsuit also alleges that Calkins committed fraud by misusing the loan proceeds.
“Plaintiff herein sues Defendant for damages for fraud. Defendant took the subject SunTrust Loan funds by means of misrepresentation and duplicity by multiple email and other communications from May 2013 until September 2013, by misleading Plaintiff regarding his intentions for the use of the funds, by misleading Plaintiff of the chances of success in the purchase of Georgia Voice Magazine, by his intention to have the funds made payable in the name of TW Media, LLC and deposited in a TW Media, LLC bank account without Plaintiff’s knowledge or consent, and by his intention to fail and refuse to repay said funds. Such fraud has injured Plaintiff in an amount to be shown by the evidence at trial and for which Plaintiff is entitled to relief in this action,” according to the lawsuit.
Calkins and his company also face a lawsuit in DeKalb State Court. American Express sued both on Sept. 17 for repayment of $50,422 in debt on a company credit card. The lawsuit alleges that Calkins “continues to fail and refuses” to pay the debt.
A process server attempted to serve Calkins with the lawsuit on Oct. 1 at the company's former offices on Zonolite Road. But Fenuxe relocated to offices on Memorial Drive in January as Calkins apparently sold the company to owners with ties to a pop singer, gay bars in Florida and a controversial former gay media executive.