Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and his business partner Joel Hyatt have filed a lawsuit against Qatar-based satellite news provider Al Jazeera, for US$65 million.
The duo, who co-founded Current TV, are accusing Al Jazeera American Holdings I of fraud and breach of contract in relation to Gore and Hyatt’s January 2013 sale of the network.
Acting on behalf of other former Current TV shareholders, they are seeking undisclosed damages in a sealed complaint filed Friday (August 15) in Chancery Court in Wilmington, Delaware, with Gore and Hyatt claiming that Al Jazeera tried to seize the $65 million in escrow funds tied to the US$500 million buyout of Current TV, which was subsequently rebranded as Al Jazeera America – securing the parent company access to some 43 million U.S. homes.
According to Bloomberg, Gore was to allegedly gross a post-debt profit of $70 million in exchange for his 20% stake in Current, which he co-founded in 2004.
“Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago,” said David Boies, president of the New York-based firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner – and a lawyer for Gore – in a statement. “We are asking the court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow fund that belongs to Current’s former shareholders.”
Boies has reportedly filed a motion to unseal the complaint. Calls by realscreen to reach Boies and Al Jazeera America were unreturned at press time.
Gore and partner Hyatt, founder of Hyatt Legal Services, as well as Los Angeles billionaire Robert Burkle and money manager Richard Blum bought Current TV’s predecessor for $70 million in 2004, with the intention of creating a youth-driven competitor to Fox News and MSNBC.