(LOS ANGELES) — If a book is titled Hang in There, Baby — What One of the World’s Most Difficult Bosses Taught Me About Life, Work and Love, chances are it will capture the attention of the boss in question.
And so Jeff Lewis, the host of Bravo’s Flipping Out, and, presumably, the “difficult” boss here, is suing the author of the book, Jenni Pulos, who has been his longtime assistant and co-star.
According to the complaint filed Nov. 14 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Lewis first learned that Pulos was writing a book about her life in October. At that time, the lawsuit contends, Lewis reminded Pulos of the confidentiality agreement she signed in 2008 and 2010, which forbade her from disclosing information about his professional or personal life.
She promised that the book was “strictly related” to her own family and personal life, not her work life, the complaint says. But after scrolling around the Web, Lewis came across the book’s title on Amazon.com, which led him to believe that the book had already been written, since it had an ISBN number, was slated for 288 pages and scheduled to be published on Aug. 20, 2013, by St. Martin’s Press.
Lewis’ lawyer, J. Scott Souders, then sent cease-and-desist letters to Pulos and her agents. They, in turn, said the book had not yet been written and that “it did not contain any confidential or proprietary information.” Pulos and Souders contend that the only thing Pulos was ordered to cut was the title of the book — to Hang in There, Baby! — and nothing else. Earlier this month, Lewis asked to see a copy of the manuscript to make sure Pulos hadn’t broken their confidentiality agreement, but she told him “her agents instructed her not to show Jeff any of the book copy,” according to the lawsuit.
On her website, Pulos writes that her forthcoming book will “humorously outline” her advice for “surviving any difficult situation, no matter if it is in the workplace, in relationships or in life.”
But Lewis doesn’t find anything humorous about it. Along with working as Lewis’ personal and executive assistant for more than 10 years, Pulos has also appeared in all six of the show’s seasons, according to the complaint. “In her employment with Jeff for these many years, Jenni has become privy to both trade secrets and other confidential information relating to the operation of the plaintiff’s businesses as well as highly confidential and private information relating to Jeff’s personal life and business dealings,” the complaint alleges.
“Who’s going to buy a book about Jenni’s life if it doesn’t include Jeff Lewis, and probably confidential information she’s gleaned?” Souder told ABC News. “You want the backstory if you buy a book.”
Lewis, Jeff Lewis Productions Inc. and Jeff Lewis Design LLC have sought a preliminary and permanent injunction against Pulos, preventing her from disclosing or publishing “personal, private, proprietary or confidential information” about Lewis. He is also seeking reimbursement for his legal fees.
St. Martin’s declined to comment. But Pulos’ lawyer, Adam Levin, told ABC News that “she’s done nothing wrong and expects the lawsuit to be dismissed soon.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Lisa Respers France, CNN
Jeff Peterson, Deseret News
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com