NEW YORK – A former nanny who worked for Don Imus (search) has sued the radio and television personality, claiming he wrongfully fired her, chased her off his New Mexico ranch in the middle of the night, and then trashed her on his radio show.
Nichole C. Mallette (search), 24, says in court papers that Imus apparently became upset about a small knife that she carried in a sheath on her belt, and about a cap pistol she had brought to the ranch for his 6-year-old son.
She says the boy had told her he had permission to play with cap guns at the ranch but the lawsuit, filed Monday, says she never gave the cap pistol to the boy.
Mallette is seeking unspecified damages, saying she was wrongfully terminated, defamed and subjected to intentional emotional distress. Her lawsuit names Imus, his wife, NBC, MSNBC and Westwood One.
"This isn't a case of 'he said, she said,'" said Mallette's lawyer, Benedict P. Morelli. "This is a case of 'he said, she sued.'"
As for her November 2003 firing, Morelli asked, "What was the motivation?"
Michael Weber, Imus' lawyer, called the lawsuit "frivolous" and said "there is absolutely no truth whatsoever to these claims."
According to court papers, Mallette was awakened by pounding on her door and confronted by Don and Deidre Coleman Imus (search). The papers say Imus' wife demanded the gun and knife and told her, "Pack your things; you're terminated."
Mallette, in a truck driven by a ranch employee, was taken through the dark to the entrance gate of the 4,000-acre ranch, according to the lawsuit. Imus, in another truck, accompanied them to the gate and then drove away, the papers say.
Mallette, who had lost her wallet containing all her identification cards, was unable to leave the area or check into a motel, according to the court papers. Imus refused to let her accompany the family on a chartered flight back to New York, the lawsuit says.
On a broadcast of "Imus in the Morning" several days later, the shock jock called Mallette a "terrorist" who was a "violent, armed and dangerous criminal" and that he had been forced to disarm her, the lawsuit says.
Jeremy Gaines, spokesman for NBC and MSNBC, said he had no comment. Westwood One could not be reached for comment.