Howard Stern going after SiriusXM for $300M

On Monday, Howard Stern submitted a brief with the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division to put in motion a highly anticipated appeal against his employer, SiriusXM Radio, for an estimated $300 million.

The legal battle began in late 2004 when the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” announced he’d be leaving terrestrial radio to join Sirius in January 2006 for a reported $500 million over five years, plus potential stock bonuses.

When Stern made the announcement, Sirius had a paltry 673,000 subscribers. In December 2010, Stern re-upped for another five years for a reported $400 million. Only now, Stern’s employer was SiriusXM, a name change precipitated by the 2008 merger between Sirius and its satellite competitor XM Radio Inc.

Two years later, the company reported its subscription base had grossed more than 20 million listeners. Claiming they were owed stock bonuses due to the company’s success, Stern’s 112 Inc. production company, along with agent Don Buchwald , filed a May 2011 lawsuit seeking the estimated $300 million.

In April 2012, New York State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick dismissed the case, calling the wording in Stern’s original contract with Sirius “clear” and “unambiguous.”

To what degree Stern takes his case to the court of public opinion is anyone’s guess, but he has occasionally used airtime to rail against Sirius XM president Scott Greenstein, whom he accuses of having a “f—ing short memory” with regards to where SiriusXM was prior to Stern’s arrival.

Howard Stern Files an Appeal

Radio host Howard Stern, against the odds, has appealed a lawsuit against employer Sirius XM, which was previously dismissed and ruled “with prejudice,” by New York State Supreme Court Judge Barbara Kapnick, meaning neither Stern nor his manager, Don Buchwald, could refile a suit with similar claims.

In her ruling earlier this month, Kapnick noted that Stern’s contract had “clear, unambiguous language” and, as such, was not entitled to any further compensation.

Under the terms of his contract, Stern believed he was owed an additional $300 million for lost stock awards, when he signed his initial deal in 2005. If Stern surpassed subscriber thresholds as a result of joining the company, he would have been granted these options.

In the contract, the radio host was supposed to receive five stock awards worth $75 million each, in addition to a $25 million bonus he received when the merger happened. Stern only received the initial grant, but not the other four.

Buchwald and Stern argued that he had surpassed the expectations because of the merger with XM Satellite Radio in 2008. Stern resigned with Sirius in December 2010.

The New York Supreme Court may not accept Stern’s appeal from the appellate court, given Kapnick’s decision, but it’s noteworthy that Stern’s lawyers believe there is a chance the case could be heard.