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Keith Olbermann, Current sue each other for breach of contract

It seems the relationship between TV anchor Keith Olbermann and his most recent employer has soured, not unlike the one he had with MSNBC. After the Current network fired him last month for “material, serial breach of contract,” Olbermann countersued, also claiming breach of contract, along with sabotage and disparagement.

Olbermann’s firing came just a year into his five-year, $50 million contract with the network formed by former Vice President Al Gore and Joel Hyatt. He allegedly clashed with his employers over issues ranging from technical problems to a disagreement to host certain hours of election coverage.

Central to the breach of contract suit, though, is the claim that Olbermann missed a number of shows, which Current termed “unauthorized absences.” The network says the host missed 19 out of 41 working days in January and February and that he asked for a vacation day one day before the Super Tuesday GOP primaries. When that request was declined, he was told that if he took it he would be in breach of contract. He took it off anyway, but was back on the air for the primaries. Not long after, however, Current announced it would be replacing Olbermann immediately with former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Olbermann now says the network owes him up to $70 million in cash and equity compensation. Other complaints against Current include broadcasting his image in ads without permission, refusing to invest resources in the show and disclosing confidential terms of his contract.

The legal battle that’s now brewing promises to be expensive, but that’s to be expected with stakes as high as what Olbermann is demanding. Given his personality and career history, it’s also likely to be highly volatile. Not all commercial litigation needs to be this way, though. With tough, experienced business law professionals on your side, a breach of contract lawsuit can be successful without the need to get your hands dirty.

Source: Contra Costa Times, “Keith Olbermann sues Al Gore’s network,” Tony Hicks, April 5, 2012

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