Marvel CEO Faces New York Subpoena Battle | Courthouse News Service
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Marvel CEO Faces New York Subpoena Battle

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) - A Florida businessman has subpoenaed records he hopes will show that the head of Marvel launched a vicious hate-mail campaign falsely accusing him of child molestation and murder.

Harold Peerenboom filed the petition on Thanksgiving Eve in Manhattan County Supreme Court, saying Marvel should hand over email logs of Isaac Perlmutter, the entertainment giant's CEO and billionaire stockholder of its parent company Disney.

Peerenboom claims the records contain information regarding a neighborhood dispute between him and Perlmutter, which escalated to the point where savagely slanderous letters about Peerenboom have been circulated around their upscale community of Sloan's Curve in Palm Beach.

The letters were also sent via the postal service to hundreds of Peerenboom's business associates and friends in the U.S. and Canada, and to teachers at Crestwood School, an educational facility co-founded by Peerenboom.

Peerenboom says the hate mail falsely states that he sexually molested a child in Sloan's Curve and was responsible for the 2013 murder of two Canadian citizens, one of whom was the former director at Crestwood.

"Other letters portrayed Peerenboom as an anti-Semite who endorsed Hitler's 'Final Solution' and who advocated violent retribution against his Jewish neighbors in Sloan's Curve," Peerenboom's New York pleading says.

Yet another round of letters, made to look like Peerenboom wrote them himself, was purportedly sent to random prison inmates and their family members, hurling vile insults at the felons. These mailings included Peerenboom's address, not-so subtly inviting the inmates to seek revenge on him as the purported author.

Peerenboom says he received a chilling message from his harasser, who took delight in inciting the inmates. The message referenced a serious car crash in which Peerenboom had been involved. "We heard around the neighborhood that you had died in a car accident," the message said, according to the complaint. "I was looking into buying my ticket to Canada so I could spit, dance, urinate ... on your grave."

"No one will be happy until you leave our neighborhood - until you leave Sloan's Curve - get out now," the message supposedly continued.

Peerenboom claims all this bad blood stemmed from a 2013 quarrel over who should run the tennis center in Sloan's Curve. Peerenboom challenged the posh community's reinstatement of its tennis-center management contract with instructor Karen Donnelly, a move that he claims drew ire from the Marvel CEO.

The community became engulfed in the tennis controversy, and that's when the letters allegedly started appearing.

Peerenboom says he had to serve a subpoena to Marvel directly because Perlmutter did not comply with a demand for production of work emails related to the Sloan's Curve wrangling. He says Marvel is trying to force him to pay exorbitant legal fees and other charges - $250,000 - in connection with the discovery demand.

Perlmutter's attorneys at Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf in Miami labeled the subpoena "a blatant attempt to harass Mr. Perlmutter's business activities at Marvel."

"Nevertheless, in an effort to streamline the litigation and discovery process, and to conserve judicial resources, the Perlmutters will not be objecting to the issuance of the subpoena duces tecum directed to Marvel," the lawyers said in correspondence with Peerenboom's attorney. "However, the Perlmutters reserve their rights to seek any and all appropriate relief from the court if and when the subpoena ... is officially issued."

Perlmutter's defense team, including high-profile attorney Roy Black, have characterized Peerenboom's case as a contrived "witch hunt" bent on blaming the billionaire CEO for the hate mail.

"[Peerenboom] appears to have overlooked other, more likely suspects as a result of his inexplicable fixation on the Perlmutters," Black Srebnick attorney Jared Lopez said in a September motion with the Palm Beach County Circuit Court.

Peerenboom's misguided effort to tie Perlmutter to the mail involved luring the Marvel chief into a deposition so that Peerenboom's agents could illegally collect his DNA from documents that were handed to him, the motion says.

Lopez said Peerenboom carried out the DNA collection scheme "long before the Perlmutters were even aware of the existence of the alleged hate mail campaign."

The parties are still battling over the legitimacy of the DNA samples. According to court documents, Peerenboom's investigators removed reference samples from the hate mail, and the evidence is in the custody of an Ontario testing firm.

Peerenboom's fourth amended complaint in Florida survived a motion to dismiss in October. His attorneys at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres and Friedman are pushing for the civil case to go to trial in summer 2016.

Peerenboom had initially tried to present the case as a pure bill of discovery in 2013, but the Florida court rejected that approach, prompting him to refile the action as a defamation complaint against Perlmutter and several other neighbors.

The additional defendants have since been dropped from the case, leaving Perlmutter and his wife as the sole targets of the allegations.

A countersuit filed by Stephen Raphael, one of the Sloan Curve neighbors originally named in Peerenboom's bill of discovery, contends that Peerenboom "has a long history of misusing judicial process to carry out personal vendettas," and unfairly roped Raphael into the litigation.

The Palm Beach County Police Department confirmed that a criminal investigation into the hate mail is active.

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