Howard Stern Wins 2017 Lawsuit Over Airing of Taxpayer Call

Back in February 2017, Judith Barrigas filed a lawsuit which put Howard Stern and the U.S. government in the odd position of having to defend a leak of tax information.

Judith Barrigas was suing the United States of America, Howard Stern and the Howard Stern Production Company on grounds of unlawful invasion of privacy and negligence, among other things.

That day, I.R.S. agent Jimmy Forsythe called up The Howard Stern Show, presumably to be a guest. He was put on hold. So Forsythe got back to work and spoke to Barrigas, who had a problem with her taxes. When Stern was ready for Forsythe and put him on air, he was in the midst of a conversation with Barrigas.

“Jimmy, go ahead,” said Stern that day. “You’re on the air in Long Island…Jimmy?”

“$71 due on the 20th,” said Forsyth.

“Jimmy, you’re on the f***ing air,” exclaimed Stern.

“What is he doing?” asked Stern’s co-host Robin Quivers. “Making a transaction?”

The I.R.S. agent continued to talk to Judith for several minutes without being aware that Stern, Quivers and their audience were listening in and making fun of what was being said. “It sounds like a raw deal,” said Stern at one point, and when Forsyth finally finished with Barrigas and checked in on his other line, he heard Stern comment, “Dude, we just heard your whole transaction. What’s going on, man? You got the most boring job, dude.”

In response to the lawsuit, the U.S. government argued it had sovereign immunity under the “tax exception” to the Federal Tort Claims Act. Meaning, that it couldn’t be held liable for actions, even wrongful ones, made by a federal government employee while acting within the scope of employment.

A Massachusetts federal judge has ruled that a private call between an I.R.S. agent and taxpayer Judith Barrigas that was broadcast on The Howard Stern Show was somehow related to the collection of taxes and also wasn’t “sufficiently personal or intimate in nature.”

The judge says the disclosed tax information was “imprecise and only roughly identifiable with a particular individual.”

Judith Barrigas’ name, social security number, address and other identifying information weren’t disclosed. Nor did Stern’s audience hear the sound of her voice. The only thing that might possibly identify her was disclosure of her telephone number, which was publicly listed.

The judge concludes, “There may be circumstances in which the publication of tax-related information does constitute an invasion of privacy under Massachusetts law, but for the reasons stated above, the level of the intrusion was significantly diminished here.”

Howard Stern Sued for Broadcasting Private Phone Call

Judith Barrigas is suing the United States of America, radio host Howard Stern and the Howard Stern Production Company on grounds of unlawful invasion of privacy and negligence, among other things.

From the Washington Post:

Judith Barrigas had a question about her taxes, so she called the IRS.

The agency’s switchboard connected her with Agent Jimmy Forsyth. They spoke for almost 45 minutes on May 19, 2015, about a potential misapplication of her tax refund in 2014. It appeared the agency had applied her refund to outstanding liabilities from 2011 and 2012, even though she already had a repayment agreement in place.

Before taking Barrigas’s call, Agent Forsyth had called into the “The Howard Stern Show,” a long-running talk show airing on Sirius XM satellite radio. The show often attempts to mine anything off-kilter (some, perhaps many, would say in poor taste) for laughs, from men faking orgasms with attractive women to having famous sportscasters prank call small market sports shows.

It’s unclear why, exactly, Forsyth had called into the show. He was placed on hold by a producer and remained in that limbo when he took Barrigas’s call on a different line.

Only, something happened. Perhaps the lines got crossed, or perhaps he used two different phones and the first picked up audio from the second. Either way, the producers at “The Howard Stern Show” found themselves listening to the private call between Forsyth and Barrigas.

Then, according to the complaint filed on Monday in Massachusetts District Court in Boston, they aired it.

“As soon as I heard of this information I just started to quiver, and had what I would call an out-of-body experience,” she told WBZ at the time. “I couldn’t believe it. At first I thought it was a joke.”

She said the IRS informed her this indeed happened, but not until it was reported by local media, despite her many calls to the agency.

In the call Howard Stern can be heard yelling “Jimmy!” seemingly in an attempt to get the IRS agent’s attention, while co-host Robin Quivers says, “If he’s working we can’t interrupt him.”

Howard Stern has not made any comment yet regarding the lawsuit. It is estimated that the call may have been broadcast to as many as 1.2 million listeners. While on the phone with Agent Forsythe, Judith Barrigas started receiving anonymous phone calls and text messages informing her that her phone number had been aired on Stern’s show.

She is suing the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act and for an unlawful disclosure of her tax return.

But she’s also asserting negligence and an invasion of her privacy against Stern and his show.

Howard Stern Loses Appeal Against SiriusXM

Howard Stern lost a bid to revive his pay lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio Inc. after a New York state appeals court found the talk-show host wasn’t entitled to additional compensation.

Stern’s production company, One Twelve Inc., and his agent, Don Buchwald, sued Sirius XM Radio in 2011, claiming the company refused to pay $300 million in stock awards owed under an agreement that brought the radio personality to the company.

howard stern rolling stone interviewJustice Barbara Kapnick of state Supreme Court dismissed the suit last April, rejecting arguments that subscribers to XM Satellite Radio, which merged with Sirius in 2008, should be counted when calculating the compensation.

An appeals court in Manhattan today agreed with Kapnick, saying the plaintiffs aren’t entitled to additional performance- based compensation under the agreement with the company’s predecessor, Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.

“Looking solely to the plain language used by the parties within the four corners of the agreement, the disputed term ‘Sirius subscribers,’ by which plaintiffs’ performance-based compensation was measured, did not include subscribers to XM Radio, a wholly owned subsidiary which defendant acquired by merger, even though the merger had been anticipated within the agreement,” the appeals court said in the ruling.

Hulk Hogan Sues Tampa Clinic for $50 Million

Former WWF Wrestler and Sex Tape Star Hulk Hogan filed another lawsuit today. It alleges medical malpractice against the Tampa Laser Spine Institute claiming he lost more than $50 million that he could have made if it wasnt fo negligent conduct and unnecessary surgical procedures.

Hulk Hogan Lawsuit 2013According to the press release, the lawsuit suggests that between February 2009 and August 2010, Hogan had many unnecessary surgical procedures that destabilized his already existing back injuries which severely mitigated his entertainment and athletic career.

The Tampa Laser Spine Institute released a statement in response to Hogan`s lawsuit, “Laser Spine Institute acknowledges the filing of the lawsuit. Laser Spine Institute cares about its patients and their outcomes, and is proud to have helped thousands of patients achieve a better quality of life by delivering optimal surgical outcomes. Laser Spine Institute has a unique patient-centric approach that starts with in-depth consultation to determine the best care options for each patient.”

Brent Hatley ‏producer of The Bubba the Love Sponge Show wasn’t too impressed: “Could Hulk Hogan be more litigious? He sure does love to sue. Always with a hand out, never wanting to actually work.”

Hulk Hogan settles lawsuit against BTLS

After settling the sex tape lawsuit with Hulk Hogan, Bubba Clem offers a formal apology:

“After further investigation, I am now convinced that Hulk Hogan was unaware of the presence of the recording device in my bedroom. I am convinced that he had no knowledge that he was being taped. Additionally, I am certain that he had no role in the release of the video. It is my belief that Terry is not involved, and has not ever been involved, in trying to release the video, or exploit it, or otherwise gain from the video’s release in any way.

Regrettably, when Hulk filed the lawsuit against me, I instinctively went on the offensive. The things that I said about him and his children were not true. I was wrong and I am deeply sorry for my reaction, and for the additional pain it cause Hulk and his children on top of the pain that they were already feeling from having learned that Terry was taped without his knowledge, and the public release of the video.

I am committed to helping Hulk and his attorneys find whoever is responsible for the release of the tape and holding them accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Sincerely, Bubba Clem”

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.

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.