The magazine covers appeared on Life & Style and InTouch in the weeks after Cruise divorced actress Katie Holmes, with whom he shares 6-year-old daughter Suri, according to a defamation lawsuit Cruise filed against the publisher in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
“Tom is a caring father who dearly loves Suri,” Cruise lawyer Bert Fields said. “She’s a vital part of his life and always will be. To say he has ‘abandoned’ her is a vicious lie. To say it in lurid headlines with a tearful picture of Suri is reprehensible.”
Fields said he sent two letters informing the publisher that the headlines were false and demanding retractions, but he was refused in each case.
“These serial defamers are foreign-owned companies with their global headquarters in Hamburg,” Fields said. “They take money from unsuspecting Americans by selling their malicious garbage. Having to pay a libel judgment may slow them down.”
Bauer Publishing Group, which publishes both magazines, responded to CNN’s request for a reponse with “no comment.”
The July 30 Life & Style cover read “SURI IN TEARS, ABANDONED BY HER DAD,” under a photograph of Suri appearing to have tears in her eyes while in her mother’s arms, the suit said.
The story inside explained she was crying “as a result of Suri being upset over not being able to take a puppy home from a pet store,” the suit said.
The complaint also includes a September In Touch cover that read “44 DAYS WITHOUT TOM … ABANDONED BY DADDY … Suri is left heartbroken as Tom suddenly shuts her out and even misses her first day of school… HAS HE CHOSEN SCIENTOLOGY OVER SURI FOR GOOD?”
Since the magazines are displayed at supermarket checkout lines, “millions of people each day must see their covers which feature screaming headlines in huge, brightly colored letters that are typically of a false, lurid and titillating nature, and that are often entirely unsupported by the stories buried in the magazines’ interiors,” the suit said.
“Tom doesn’t go around suing people,” Fields said. “He’s not a litigious guy. But when these sleaze peddlers try to make money with disgusting lies about his relationship with his child, you bet he’s going to sue.”
Cruise will “undoubtedly” donate any judgment proceeds to charity, Fields said. “He always has.”