Al Gores sues Al-Jazeera in row over Current TV sale
Al Gore appears to have been taken by Al-Jazeera in the sale of his failed cable TV venture, Current TV. He is suing the Dubai-based media giant for $500 million on behalf of Current TV's shareholders.
Former Vice President Al Gore and business partner Joel Hyatt have filed a lawsuit against Al Jazeera on charges of fraud and material breaches in their acquisition of Current Media, POLITICO has learned.
Gore and Hyatt, the co-founders of Current Media, say that Al Jazeera has unlawfully refused to turn over tens of millions of dollars currently located in an escrow account. That money is owed to Current Media shareholders per the terms of the $500-million merger agreement made in January 2013, the plaintiffs say.
The lawsuit was filed Friday morning by David Boies, attorney for Gore and Hyatt, in the Delaware Court of Chancery. (Boies also represented Gore in the 2000 Florida election recount battle against George W. Bush.)
"Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago," Boies said in a statement. "We are asking the Court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current's former shareholders."
The complaint has been filed under seal at the request of Al Jazeera, though Gore and Hyatt have filed a motion seeking to unseal it.
"We do not believe that our complaint should be sealed," Boies said. "However, despite being a news organization, Al Jazeera America has said that the full complaint should be kept from the public file. We have therefore filed the complaint under seal until the Court can resolve this issue. We expect that the Court will reject Al Jazeera America's argument."
Dawn Bridges, executive vice president of Communications for Al Jazeera, says the organization is reviewing the complaint.
"Our outside counsel is reviewing the complaint," Bridges wrote in an email. "We think it relates to a commercial dispute between former shareholders of Current Media and Al Jazeera America."
This appears to be a case where AJ is interpreting the agreement one way, while Gore et all are seeing it another. It is not an uncommon dispute, although the dollar amount is large.
But Gore doesn't sound like he's in a mood for a settlement. Charging his partner with fraud would seem to indicate he wants to go to the mat with the media giant and that could be a long, drawn out, expensive affair.