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Olbermann and Current File Lawsuits: Millions and Reputation At Stake As Romance Goes Sour
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Television personality, Keith Olbermann known for his combative ways, on Thursday filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court, against his former employer, Current TV, which was co-founded by former Vice-President Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt. He filed a breach of contract claim and said that the company owes him between $50 million and $70 million in cash and equity compensation.

He said that he “was disheartened to discover Al Gore, Joel Hyatt, and the management of Current are no more than dilettantes portraying entertainment industry executives.”

Current TV almost immediately reacted with a countersuit, filed in the same court as Keith Olbermann’s. Unlike the latter’s suit, Current TV did not claim any monetary damages, but was filled with charges and slanderous characterizations of behavior. The suit even mentioned that in a fit of rage, Olbermann had thrown a glass mug, putting employees at risk of being cut or slipping on the water. Mr. Olbermann was also accused of unprofessional conduct that did not meet with the company’s values.

  
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Olbermann had claimed that “Current’s sudden and public termination of Olbermann was the latest in a series of increasingly erratic and unprofessional actions undertaken by Current’s senior management.” Current justified his removal saying, said it fired Olbermann for “serial, material breaches of his contract, including the failure to show up at work, sabotaging the network and attacking Current and its executives.”

Olbermann was fired March 30 and replaced with a new program hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Current TV said that Olbermann’s complaint was full of falsehoods and distortions and failure to take any responsibility for the termination, even though on the “Late Show with David Letterman” Olbermann had accepted that the termination was “my fault” and that “I screwed up.” However, he had also rather pompously likened himself to a $10 million chandelier needing a place to hang, saying that he had been imprudent in accepting a contract with Current TV.

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“Current seeks a determination that it is no longer obligated to pay a dime to Mr. Olbermann who, having already been paid handsomely for showing up sporadically and utterly failing to keep his end of the bargain, now seeks to be paid tens of millions more for not working at all,” the channel said in its complaint.

In a statement Thursday, Laura Nelson Current spokeswoman said, “It is well established that over his professional career Mr. Olbermann has specialized in pounding the table.  As the old adage says, ‘When the law is on your side, you argue the law, when the facts are on your side, you argue the facts. When neither the law nor the facts are on your side, you pound the table.”



In a telephonic interview Olbermann’s lawyer, Patricia Glaser, said that Current TV’s lawsuit had no merit and posed no problem for her client. Current called Olbermann’s lawsuit, “false and malicious.”

With millions at stake, not to speak of prestige and reputation, and both combatants in a no-holds barred mood, the countdown has begun for a high-profile battle that will hog the limelight for some time.



 

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