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RHONY Alum Leah McSweeney Files Bombshell Lawsuit Against Andy Cohen & Bravo Over Alcohol Abuse, Cocaine Use, & MORE!

RHONY Alum Leah McSweeney Files Bombshell Lawsuit Against Andy Cohen & Bravo Over Alcohol Abuse, Cocaine Use, & MORE!

Former Real Housewives of New York City star Leah McSweeney has filed a jaw-dropping lawsuit against Andy CohenBravo, its reality TV production company, and more.

According to a suit filed by McSweeney on Tuesday in New York, the behind-the-scenes culture at Bravo that is helmed by Cohen allegedly “thrives off” hard drugs like cocaine, encourages Real Housewives cast members to abuse alcohol, and allegedly ignores sexually predatory behavior. Most shockingly in the suit, McSweeney alleges that Cohen snorts cocaine with a group of his favorite Housewives stars and hands out favorable tips and angles to help their careers. Whoa!!

Related: Brandi Glanville Wants Andy To PERSONALLY Apologize To Her — And Not Just Fans!

McSweeney, who has been very vocal about her past alcohol abuse and the work she’s done to overcome that addiction, centers her suit on the claim that Cohen and other production higher-ups allegedly preyed on her weakness for alcohol. The 41-year-old former reality TV star claims producers “pressured her” to drink while filming for both RHONY and Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip. Then, they reportedly failed to allow her to access professional care for alcohol abuse issues even though producers supposedly knew she had a problem.

McSweeney alleges that Bravo execs and Shed Media producers coaxed or outright coerced her with attempts to try to get her to drink in order to do controversial things on camera and boost show ratings. Then, she says, they also allegedly refused to allow her to put time in her schedule to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to get help. McSweeney claimed in her suit that the exploitation and pressure were so long-lasting, and so intense, that she eventually entered a psychiatric hospital to escape it.


The trouble, McSweeney alleges, began before she even started shooting her first season on RHONY. That would be season 12, which also featured Luann de LessepsRamona SingerSonja Morgan, and others. During the pre-film work, McSweeney told producers that she had been sober for 30 days and wanted to remain that way. But that didn’t happen, she says. Per her suit, producers:

“…not only supplied Ms. McSweeney with unlimited, free-of charge alcoholic beverages throughout Ms. McSweeney’s employment as a cast member on RHONY season 12, but also encouraged her to consume those alcoholic beverages. … This environment caused Ms. McSweeney to relapse into alcohol addiction shortly after joining RHONY season 12.”

The docs claims that McSweeney “grew mentally and physically ill” after the season, which then quickly turned into “extreme depressive symptoms” that came up during a cast trip. The episode for that trip, which Bravo titled Hurricane Leah, quickly became the highest-rated episode of that season of RHONY. And it was all due to producers’ “exacerbation of Ms. McSweeney’s clear disabilities,” per the lawsuit.

Things got so bad that the suit even claims that other cast members “expressed concerns” over McSweeney’s “erratic” behavior. However, producers not only turned a blind eye to it — they allegedly encouraged it!! The lawsuit states:

“[One of the producers] called Ms. McSweeney and told her that, despite relapsing into alcohol use disorder, Ms. McSweeney should continue to consume alcohol so long as she ‘remain[ed] lucid’ while filming.'”

After the end of season 12, McSweeney was able to regain her sobriety, and she signed up for another season. Then, while she met producers in a restaurant for lunch to discuss filming season 13, and she didn’t order an alcoholic beverage, one producer allegedly tried to coax her into drinking by saying:

“Well you don’t have a problem… do you?”


Then, when filming began, they allegedly “put Ms. McSweeney in situations where she felt pressured to relapse into alcohol use disorder.” So much for allowing her to change, based on that. Oof. And not only that, but producers allegedly gave her “frequent hints” about them wanting her to drink more. That included openly praising other contestants by “glorifying their alcohol use,” claiming it made for better television. In turn, that caused McSweeney to become concerned that she would lose her job. The suit stated:

“She feared that her sobriety would cause a trickledown effect, where if she continued not to drink… Cohen, [the producers] and the audience would think she was boring [and] Cohen would no longer want her on the show.”

At one point, as McSweeney was dealing with the impending death of her grandmother, she asked producers for an opportunity to leave the Hamptons and temporarily remove herself from filming to be with family. Producers told her that she could “leave if she wanted,” which McSweeney took to mean there would be major consequences if she did. The suit claimed:

“During a cast trip to the Hamptons, Ms. McSweeney experienced a significant decline in mental health due to the impending death of her grandmother. Specifically, Ms. McSweeney’s disability manifested itself in the form of repeated panic attacks that [the producers] witnessed. … Instead, [the producers] told Ms. McSweeney to ‘lighten up’ and ‘have more fun’ and that her ‘personality is a lot different when [she was] drinking.'”

And on another occasion, McSweeney claims she received messages from fans “telling her that her daughter should commit suicide.” Leah told that to producers, and said the messages had allegedly made herself feel suicidal. But instead of helping her, the suit asserts that producers very much did the opposite:

“Rather than engaging in an interactive process with Ms. McSweeney to accommodate her disabilities and worsening mental health conditions. … [A producer] exploited Ms. McSweeney’s disabilities in attempt to manipulate Ms. McSweeney to relapse into alcohol use disorder.”

The suit goes on:

“[That same producer] in diametric opposition to [their] obligations as an employer encouraged Ms. McSweeney to relapse and told her that the RHONY season 13 fans would like her more during the season if Ms. McSweeney still consumed alcohol.”

Later, McSweeney claimed that after she signed up to do Real Housewives: Ultimate Girls Trip, she was assured that she would have access to AA meetings once the women got to Thailand. Producers told her that “would not be a problem.” However, once the cast arrived in Thailand and filming began, the production company Shed Media allegedly “refused to provide transportation to get to the AA meetings in Thailand and that there would not be time for her to attend AA meetings given the filming schedule.”

Related: Andy Cohen Calls Out Tom Schwartz On ‘WWHL’! Ouch!!

Now, McSweeney is suing Cohen, Bravo, Shed Media, and Warner Media, which owns Shed. Interestingly, former RHONJ star Caroline Manzo is also suing Shed Media and Warner Media — and RHOBH vet Brandi Glanville addressed her most recent and infamous legal letter to the same four entities which McSweeney is now going after. In this suit, McSweeney claims:

“[Bravo and the producers] discriminated against, tormented, demoralized, demeaned, harassed and retaliated against Ms. McSweeney because she is a woman with disabilities, such as alcohol use disorder and various mental health disorders, all in the name of selling drama. … But being in the business of reality television does not relieve [them] of their obligation to follow employment laws that prohibit the exact type of discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation that Defendants subjected Ms. McSweeney to. Now, Ms. McSweeney seeks justice.”

She is being represented by the law firm Adelman Matz. If you recognize that name, well, you should: they recently won a $4 million prize for Cardi B against a YouTube vlogger over a defamation claim. As for McSweeney’s case, per Page Six, she is seeking unspecified damages.

Both sides have already reacted, too. While neither Bravo, Shed Media nor Warner Media have spoken out yet, a rep for Cohen said this to that same media outlet after the lawsuit news dropped:

“The claims against Andy are completely false.”

McSweeney herself popped up on Instagram on Tuesday with a statement about the lawsuit too. In it, she began:

“This is not a story I ever thought I would be telling; in fact, I was petrified to speak on it and was warned not to. Today my attorneys filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court of The Southern District of New York against my former employers. Your favorite Bravo shows are run by people who create a dangerous work environment, encourage substance abuse to artificially create drama and cynically prey on the vulnerabilities of their employees.”

And she continued:

“Some of the stories and incidents that are detailed in the lawsuit have been shown in edited form on TV or reported in media, but many have not. And there will be much more that comes out once the people involved are questioned under oath. Today I am taking back my reality.”

She slammed the “reckless and diabolical” nature of reality TV, too, noting:

“There’s something wonderful about the concept of Reality TV — that millions of people you’ve never met can laugh with you, cry with you, empathize with and root for you. But the reckless and diabolical way in which the people at the top drool over the mishaps and misfortunes of the women including myself are disturbing. It’s a workplace culture where toxicity, alcoholism and pain are not only expected but encouraged and facilitated. That is something I most definitely did not sign up for nor would I ever endorse.”

And then concluded:

“There is nothing more important than my sobriety, without it I risk losing everything. I have been very transparent about my addiction and recovery however there are personal things in this lawsuit that I never wanted to disclose for fear of being judged and shamed, but I am at a point now in my life where I feel strong enough to withstand whatever may come my way.”


That’s obviously a lot to take in. Reactions, Perezcious readers?

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, help is available. Consider contacting the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988, by calling, texting, or chatting, or go to

If you or someone you know is experiencing substance abuse, help is available. Consider checking out the resources SAMHSA provides at or check out

[Image via WWHL/YouTube]

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Feb 28, 2024 07:50am PDT