Today, Thursday, in the New York Supreme Court in Lower Manhattan, Judge Eileen Bransten confirmed the award to yours truly in the matter of CRTV vs Steyn. Short version: We won.
For those readers new to this wretched business, last February CRTV canceled my TV show on their subscription network and fired me, precipitating the worst year of my professional life. Over the course of the last twelve months I've been asked regularly by various people: Why don't you just walk away?
Which is a fair question, with a very simple answer: I couldn't walk away because CRTV sued me for ten million dollars. All this "claimant"/"counterclaimant" mumbo-jumbo obscures the reality: CRTV were the plaintiffs, they brought the suit, they dragged me into a pit of legal hell.
So I had no choice in the matter, because I was the defendant. So I defended myself. And today the New York court ruled that CRTV lost - and I won, comprehensively.
You can read Judge Elaine Gordon's verdict on the case (confirmed by Judge Bransten today) here.
Judge's orders are not always the easiest reading matter for persons of a non-legal bent. However, those of us who have spent too long in American courtrooms know that you start with the last page and then go back and read from the beginning. So my advice is to begin with the final score on page 20. Here you will find inter alia...
~on the Claimant's (ie, CRTV's) claims, "an Award is made in favor of the Respondents" (ie, me);
~on "the Counterclaims asserted by Steyn, MSE [Mark Steyn Enterprises] and Oak Hill [MSE's producing partner]", "an Award in favor of Steyn and MSE is made" and "an Award in favor of Oak Hill is made";
~a seven-figure sum in attorneys' fees and costs "are collectively awarded to Steyn, MSE and Oak Hill";
~the total cost of the Arbitration is to be borne by CRTV.
That's a final tab, including interest, of over four million dollars that CRTV has to pay us. Compound interest of nine per cent backdated to last February is payable on just under three million of the judgment, and continues rising until CRTV pony up. Judge Elaine Gordon issued that award on February 21st this year - and Judge Eileen Bransten confirmed that award earlier today, rejecting feeble attempts by CRTV to halve it.
Notwithstanding the decisions of two eminent judges, CRTV have not paid us a penny - and have indicated they will attempt further delay.
In case those monetary damages are insufficiently clear, Judge Gordon spells it out in the preceding pages. Page 18:
CRTV lost this claim.
And page 19:
CRTV lost the central claim.
And page 12:
CRTV did not have the right to declare a breach...
CRTV lost on every single one of its claims, including the most pathetic: its accusation that I had stolen eight grand's worth of equipment - or, in legalese, "conversion". Page 13:
The claim for conversion has not been proven.
CRTV has failed to prove its claims by a fair preponderance of the evidence.
On the other hand, Steyn has proven that they performed their contract... CRTV breached its obligations to Steyn and Oak Hill.
I don't intend to say more about this unless it becomes necessary. There's a lot of he said/she said stuff out there, but we're beyond that now: the judge gets the final word, and the above speaks for itself. CRTV brought a suit they should never have brought, and the judge punished them with damages, attorney's fees, costs, interest, the lot.
That said, if you wish to know more, Judge Gordon has produced a brilliantly clear and very readable narrative of what happened to The Mark Steyn Show - aside from pages 3 to 5, which deal with a point of jurisdiction re Oak Hill Media's claims against CRTV and which you can skip unless that kind of thing turns you on (today Judge Bransten decisively ruled against CRTV on the jurisdictional argument). Other than that, from the resumption of the main action on page 6 it is a very straightforwardly told tale all the way to page 13, where all CRTV's claims against me are dismissed. We did not win on every claim - you never do - but on page 14 all the central points in this dispute are adjudicated in our favor.
On the other hand, if you prefer just the juicy bits, you might like the email exchange on page 8 between CRTV chief exec Cary Katz, his CFO Michael Boyd, and his Chief Content Officer Chris Crane. Crane writes:
Let's announce everything and put this motherf**ker on the hook for everything. If anything goes wrong, it lands on HIM, not CRTV. Time to get tough with Pussy Steyn and Momma Bitch Nutcase Melissa...
Aside from CRTV (hereinafter referred to as the plaintiffs) and Pussy Steyn and Momma Bitch Nutcase Melissa (hereinafter referred to as the motherf**kers), there are other names that recur throughout Judge Gordon's ruling, mostly of various CRTV figures. So a scorecard to help tell the players:
~Rikki Ratliff, the original "executive producer" of the show;
~Jason K Meath, some sort of political operative with ambitions to work in television;
~Paul Kullman, the production's video mixer, and also (unknown to me at the time) a convicted criminal, banned from Canada, and a fugitive from justice during his entire time on the show. As Judge Gordon notes on page 12, Kullman was "not credible" and indeed committed perjury during his testimony. He subsequently settled with us for $1,000 over his breach of his own employment contract;
~Bayly Winkler, a production assistant on the show and (also unknown to me) a criminal associate of Kullman's, convicted of embezzlement in New York and also banned from Canada;
~Corey Fehlner, the show's operations manager, who hired Kullman and Winkler, and was fired after being turned away by Canadian border agents;
~Mike Dunn, a Vermont PBS director who worked on the show. He wasn't a great director, but I feel a bit sorry for him, as he foolishly believed Fehlner and CRTV's promises of full-time employment once they'd got rid of me, and as a result the poor chap hasn't worked in a year.
The other witness mentioned is one of ours, Kraig Kitchin, the chairman of the Radio Hall of Fame and co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks. I am enormously grateful to Kraig and his colleagues at "The Rush Limbaugh Show" for sticking with me in the face of an extraordinary campaign last spring to get me booted from Rush and other outlets. I owe them more than I can ever repay.
As Mark Steyn Club member G D Holcombe writes:
Speaking as an attorney, the conventional legal term for the result (at least in my jurisdiction) is a Monumental Ass-Kicking. Rarely does one side in a complex case like that so one-sidedly mop the floor with the opponent--especially when the opponent has instigated the lawsuit.
Congrats. Both to you and MBN Melissa, as well as to your lawyers.
That would be our great trial team Michael Murphy, Mary Catherine Amerine and Steven Wallach, all of Gerard Fox Law, and Erin O'Leary of Fishkin Lucks, plus MSE's own corporate counsel, Catherine Clark. And I also thank all those who did not make the same mistake as Mike Dunn and opted to stay with us: You can see their names on the credits of more recent Mark Steyn Shows, such as the Lindsay Shepherd and Douglas Murray editions. I'm enormously grateful to them for sticking with me.
Above all, I'm grateful to the viewers, listeners and readers around the world who have helped keep me in the game during this awful year. As I testified at trial, my bedrock contract is the moral contract with all those who read and watch and listen to me. You deserve the truth - and Judge Gordon's order provides that definitively. Judge Bransten today upheld every last dot and comma of it - as will the third judge, if CRTV are foolish enough to prolong this thing.
As I said, I hope it will not be necessary to say any more about this matter. I hope that Cary Katz and CRTV's other owners will accept the verdict, and do as honorable men do who pick a fight and lose: Take their lumps and move on.