Niche Media Files $20 Million Suit Against Former Employee

Upmarket publisher Niche Media, which puts out Gotham, Hamptons and Aspen Peak magazines, went to court this week in Manhattan to stave off a full frontal attack from a former employee and rogue publisher, Jerry Powers.

The New York-based Niche, founded by Jason Binn, filed a $20 million suit asking a judge for an injunction barring its former ad sales director, Eden Williams, from siphoning off high-end advertisers to Powers’ new media business, Plum TV.

Williams jumped ship to Plum in July 2010. Powers, who made headlines recently when he paid off an overdue $1.2 million gambling debt to Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino, launched Miami Plum magazine on March 4.

“Like Niche’s magazines, Plum Miami seeks to obtain and retain the same advertisers as Niche’s magazines,” according to court papers.

Niche, which is owned by Greenspun Media of Las Vegas, can’t stop the Miami publication from competing for the same limited upscale advertisers, but they can seek to enforce Williams’ confidentiality and non-compete agreements.

Williams was hired by Niche in 2003 with no magazine sales experience, according to the court papers.

Under the terms of her contract, Williams would not be allowed to compete directly against her former employer for at least a year within a 150 mile radius of her former publications.

She is also barred from using the contacts she gained at Niche for another publisher.

If the judge agrees with Niche, Plum would also be barred from using Williams for ad sales.

Powers, who sold his glossy mag, Ocean Drive, to Greenspun for $33 million in 2007, also has plans to launch tony mags in Aspen and the Hamptons by the end of the year.

Plum and Williams did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.