LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A judge today ruled that Adam Carolla can move forward with his countersuit against his former producer, who alleges that the broadcast personality broke up their partnership without justification and owes him money.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson ruled that it was proper for the former “Loveline” co-host to seek a legal determination whether the partnership and an employment agreement ever existed between the 49- year-old Carolla and Donny Misraje. The other plaintiffs are Misraje’s wife, Kathee Schneider-Misraje, and his cousin, technology expert Sandy Ganz. Carolla filed his countersuit April 5, also naming Sandy Ganz’s wife, Kelly Ganz. Lawyers for the Misrajes and the Ganz couple sought to dismiss part of the complaint on grounds the issues would be decided in their suit. Johnson disagreed.
“It seems to me these are things we can sort out at trial if necessary,” Johnson said. “I don’t see any need to address it at the front end.” The Misrajes and Sandy Ganz started the legal battle by suing Carolla on Jan. 17 for breach of their partnership and employment agreements. They allege they were not paid for their work on his behalf. Carolla owned 60 percent of the partnership, Misraje 30 percent and Sandy Ganz 10 percent, according to the suit. ”Though Carolla has repeatedly acknowledged the partnership agreement between himself, Mr. Misraje and Mr. Ganz … he has since wrongfully kicked plaintiffs out of the business and seeks to exclude them from their share of the Partnership profits, all while he continues to reap the benefits of the business that plaintiffs conceived of and developed,” the suit states. Misraje and Carolla were friends dating back to their high school days. Misraje persuaded him to try the podcast format in February 2009 after his syndicated radio talk show on CBS Radio was cancelled, the suit states.
“The Adam Carolla Show” was launched in 2009 and he and Misraje entered into a partnership to launch Misraje’s “vision to build a ‘multi-media podcasting network,” the suit states. Misraje left a job in the entertainment business that paid $231,000 a year to work full time on the new venture, the suit states. His wife alleges she spent 40-60 hours weekly on the project and Sandy Ganz says he rebuilt the entire website from scratch.
Both say that during this time, they contributed $10,000 in capital to the venture, used up their accrued health insurance hours earned through a trade union and went without pay for more than a year, living off a loan placed against their home in the expectation they would receive partnership payments. The relationship went bad in 2011 when the three plaintiffs sought to enforce their rights to equal decision making, according to the complaint, which portrays Carolla as “increasingly dictatorial and threatening.”
Carolla ultimately ordered Misraje to stop traveling to the live show, put him on a three-month probation and threatened to exclude live show revenue from the partnership income, the suit states.
The Misrajes and Sandy Ganz were fired in September 2011, the suit states.
But in the countersuit, Carolla’s lawyers maintain Misraje never accepted an offer for a 30 percent share of the podcast’s profits, “but instead began to imply that he was an owner of the podcast.”
Kelly Ganz is representing herself. The countersuit alleges that her company, Gulf Racing, received profits from sales of hats, T-shirts and coffee cups with the podcast logo that should have been paid to Carolla’s company, Lotzi Digital Inc.
In a document filed May 23, Kelly Ganz denied any wrongdoing.
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