Investigator Philip Klein claims a New York media company stole confidential information from him regarding the disappearance of singer Olivia Newton-John's former boyfriend.
Klein, who owns Klein Investigations and Consulting, sued television production company Wide Eye Communications, its managing editor, Dylan Howard, and public relations firm Crocmedia, alleging they made fraudulent representations to gain secret information.
Klein claims he was promised $80,000 for all his information regarding his investigation into the disappearance of Patrick McDermott.
However, Klein alleges the defendants absconded the secret information and stole Klein's story. The defendants claimed the information in their story was available to the public through publication and commercial use, according to the complaint.
In his lawsuit, Klein never reveals the confidential information revealed by Howard.
McDermott, the former long-time boyfriend of Newton-John, disappeared from a fishing boat off San Pedro, Calif., on June 30, 2005. No body was ever recovered.
Klein was hired by NBC's Dateline in 2007 to investigate the disappearance, and he became convinced McDermott was still alive. He has even set up a website, findpatrickmcdermott.com, devoted to the issue.
"He's alive, there's no doubt in my mind, this guy's alive," Klein said on Dateline. "Why stage your own disappearance? Well, maybe in his mind if he stages his death, the insurance policy will pay off all his debts and he can leave his child a gift by pretending he's dead."
After the Dateline episode aired in January 2009, investigators kept a close watch in Mexico, where they believe McDermott may be hiding.
In April, the team of investigators led by Klein reportedly tracked McDermott down after noticing that a collection of centralized IP addresses were logging onto the findpatrickmcdermott.com website. The addresses led the investigators to the Mexican-Pacific coast near Puerta Vallarta where the lighting technician was living.
At the time of his disappearance, McDermott had $755.01 in savings and owed $19,004.56 in credit card debt and was behind $8,000 in child support payments, the site says.
In his complaint, Klein seeks an unspecified judgment, plus interest at the maximum legal rate, costs and other relief the court deems just.
John S. Morgan of Harris, Duesler and Hatfield in Beaumont will be representing him.
The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.
Jefferson County District Court case number: A187-113.