Chris Cuomo will not be retreating quietly following his firing from CNN last December. The former host has served the cable news network with a $125 million arbitration demand.
In today’s arbitration demand filing, which was first reported by Deadline, Cuomo alleges his firing was unjustified and that Jeff Zucker, his former CNN boss, did not abide by the terms of Cuomo’s contract by “future wages lost as a result of CNN’s efforts to destroy his reputation in violation of the Agreement.”
“As a result of Turner’s indefensible choice to unceremoniously fire him, Cuomo has been damaged in countless ways,” according to the demand from Cuomo’s attorneys, Freedman + Taitelman LLP and Clayman Rosenberg Kirshner & Linder LLP.
“Cuomo has had his journalistic integrity unjustifiably smeared, making it difficult if not impossible for Cuomo to find similar work in the future and damaging him in amounts exceeding $125 million, which includes not only the remaining salary owed under the Agreement, but future wages lost as a result of CNN’s efforts to destroy his reputation in violation of the Agreement,” the filing adds. “Cuomo now seeks to recover the full measure of his damages against Turner and CNN.”
That includes includes “consequential damages” of $110 million, with the additional $15 million making up what Cuomo and his team says was due to him under his current contract.
Cuomo was fired Dec. 4, after an outside law firm had been retained by the network to review information about exactly how the host of Cuomo Primetime assisted his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, when the then-governor was accused of sexual misconduct.
CNN had indefinitely suspended Cuomo, the network’s top-rated host, days earlier after New York Attorney General Tish James released additional details—transcripts and exhibits—concerning Cuomo’s defense of his brother amid the state’s investigation into allegations against the former governor.
The now-former CNN host previously said he wasn’t an official advisor to his brother—and that he was one of the people who encouraged him to resign the New York State governorship in light of the misconduct allegations.
The Cuomo investigation also ultimately led to the Feb. 2 resignation of Jeff Zucker, CNN chief and WarnerMedia News and Sports chairman, after it revealed that Zucker had failed to disclose his consensual romantic relationship with Allison Gollust, who was CNN’s evp, chief marketing officer and lead spokesperson. Gollust herself resigned two weeks later.
As TVNewser reported at the time, Cuomo’s lawyers have been working on a settlement since the anchor was fired last year—and his lawyers raised issues about the relationship between Zucker and Gollust. Zucker didn’t disclose the relationship when it began—and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar asked him to resign because of it.
“It should, by now, be obvious to everyone that Chris Cuomo did not lie to CNN about helping his brother,” Chris Cuomo’s attorney Bryan Freedman said today in a statement. “In fact, as the limited information released from WarnerMedia’s investigation makes clear, CNN’s highest-level executives not only knew about Chris’s involvement in helping his brother but also actively assisted the Governor, both through Chris and directly themselves.”
“As CNN has admitted, network standards were changed in a calculated decision to boost ratings. When those practices were called into question, Chris was made the scapegoat,” Freedman said. “The legal action filed today makes clear that CNN wrongfully terminated Chris and further violated the express terms of his employment agreement by allowing its employees to disparage him. Chris is owed a full apology from those responsible.”
CNN did not immediately comment on the filing.