Lawsuit update

In the words of his America’s Got Talent co-judge Howie Mandel, radio personality Howard Stern’s lawsuit against SiriusXM is a decisive “no deal.”

The host of the eponymous Howard Stern Show was seeking $300 million from his employer SiriusXM, claiming that subscribers he attracted to both the XM and Sirius divisions contributed to his performance-based stock awards, The Smoking Gun reports. Judge Barbara Kapnick, however, ruled that since Stern’s contract only included awards for Sirius subscribers, not those of XM, he fell short of the number of listeners the contract required him to bring in and therefore is not entitled to the stock awards.

Stern was seeking four stock awards valued at $75 million each, which dwarfs even the stock bonuses seen on Wall Street. Last year, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon took home $17 million worth of stock and other options, while his Goldman Sachs counterpart Lloyd Blankfein received $10.7 million in stock awards.

Still, Stern is one of many on-air personalities to sue their employer. Keith Olbermann is suing from his former employer Current TV for $70 million over breach of contract when he was fired in late March. The fledgling network is now countersuing Olbermann, claiming instead that he violated “values of respect…and loyalty to our viewers,” co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt wrote in a statement.

Judge dismisses Stern lawsuit

The news will certainly send shock waves through the media as Howard stern has just lost his epic battle with Sirius XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI). The suit, filed over a year ago, had some tantalizing tid-bits of the history of the Howard Stern deal with Sirius, the merger with XM, and of course the massive bonus structure that Stern received as part of the deal. Stern, has had many rants on his show about how he feels the company cheated him out of potential bonuses worth well over $100 million and possibly as much as $300 million.

The sides have been at odds for months, but in the end Sirius XM’s request for summary judgement came down in the favor of the satellite radio provider. Documents filed in court today confirm Judge Barbara Kapnick’s ruling. Stern and his agent, Don Buchwald, have the right to appeal, but as of right now Sirius XM is victorious.

The biggest factor working against the Stern side was very specific bonuses paid out in the event of a merger with XM. It would appear that the court felt that the language in this section created a separation in the subscriber pool, and that a value was placed on the XM side of the equation in the event of a merger. Stern received that payment and thus in the thoughts of Sirius XM, they had already made him whole.

Stern may well have some choice words about the decision, and it could make for some entertaining radio. Stay tuned.