Joan Rivers Manager Sues

Joan Rivers’ former manager Bill Sammeth is suing the comic and reality TV star for breach of contract and libel, claiming he’s owed unpaid commissions, out-of-pocket expenses and other business costs and that Rivers humiliated him in her new documentary film.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Federal Court June 23, names Rivers, whose real name is Joan Rosenberg, Rugby Productions Inc. and Break Thru Films. The suit seeks $200,000 in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages.

Sammeth claims that between 2002 and 2009, he took Rivers’ then-static career and built it from 12 shows a year to more than 40 a year, and was instrumental in Rivers landing the “Celebrity Apprentice” gig, which she ended up winning, and a number of opportunities including the documentary “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.“

The lawsuit claims that Rivers fired Sammeth via e-mail just after her “Celebrity Apprentice” win in May 2009, for which she was paid $200,000, saying she “wanted to go in a different direction,” according to the suit.

The $200,000 compensatory figure allegedly includes Sammeth’s unpaid commissions, out-of-pocket business expenses for airfare and Rivers’ overseas tour accommodations, car rentals and other expenses. He also claims he made an $18,000 donation to Rivers’ charity auction on “Celebrity Apprentice,” which helped his then-client to win, but was never reimbursed for it as promised, the lawsuit says.

Sammeth further alleges that Rivers humiliated him by making him appear to be an “absentee manager” in the documentary about her, which he said wasn’t true.

Rivers reportedly told the New York Daily News that Sammeth’s lawsuit is just sour grapes as he was “properly fired” in May 2009 and is “making claims for money for which he is not entitled to.”