Donovan Eckhardt, who costarred with Alison Victoria on HGTV’s reality hit Windy City Rehab, has filed a lawsuit claiming defamation and emotional distress based on his portrayal in the second season of the show.
The filing asks that Discovery Inc. and Big Table Media award Eckhardt in excess of $2.2 million for actual, punitive and compensatory damages for counts of “defamation” and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Eckhardt had a falling out with Alison Victoria Gramenos over work performed on several projects, and was portrayed as the reason for several legal actions suffered by the former business partners. The second season of the series focused on Gramenos’s attempts to deal with the fallout of those actions and finger-pointed at Eckhardt.
Discovery Inc. (the HGTV parent), Big Table Media (the Windy City Rehab producers) were named in the Eckhardt suit, but Gramenos was not. The lawsuit claims the scripted series was designed to make Eckhardt into the bad guy in the partnership, with Gramenos the victim.
In the lawsuit filed in Illinois’s Cook County Circuit Court Monday against Discovery Inc. (HGTV’s parent company) and Big Table Media (Windy City Rehab’s production company), Eckhardt — Victoria’s former businesses partner and the contractor and developer on the show — explains his side of the story, and claims that the series was scripted and edited to make him look like the bad guy, and Victoria, 39, the victim.
Eckhardt left Windy City Rehab in the middle of Season 2. The business partners had previously endured stop-work orders by the City of Chicago and threats to suspend Eckhardt’s contracting licenses. They were also named in two lawsuits alleging shoddy work.
In the lawsuit, Eckhardt particularly denied accusations of mishandling and stealing company finances. He also blamed a hectic production schedule under pressure from Big Table Media for many of the stop-work orders, construction issues, permit problems and other legal problems.
Eckhardt claimed he was made into the fall guy and was presented as “the villain and cause” and “Alison as the unknowing, innocent victim of all of the issues, which Alison allegedly encountered in Season 2 as well as Alison’s claimed financial ruin.”
“Donovan has suffered emotional injuries including anxiety, depression, diminished self-esteem, loss of sleep, loss of appetite, inability to concentrate and embarrassment, and has been undergoing continuous counseling and behavioral treatment,” the lawsuit claims.