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Published September 11 2012

Judge dismisses lawsuit by man who sought cut of Ed Schultz's salary

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit claiming talk- show host Ed Schultz owed more than $100,000 to a man who sought to collaborate with him on a television deal.

Michael Queen, an NBC broadcast engineer, claimed he helped created MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.” He said Schultz, a former Fargo sportscaster and liberal radio personality, froze him out when the show made it to the air.

Queen sued in May 2011 seeking 25 percent of Schultz’s sal-ary for the show – a figure he said he was entitled to based on verbal and email exchanges with Schultz’s camp.

A judge ruled Aug. 30 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., that there wasn’t enough evidence any legally enforceable deal was ever struck.

Schultz said in an interview with The Forum on Tuesday that he’s glad to have the episode behind him.

“Obviously, we’re relieved,” he said. “I knew the truth, we knew the truth, but I’ve never been through anything like this before.”

According to court documents, Schultz and Queen first met in 2008, when Queen gave Schultz a tour of NBC’s Washington offices. Queen said he first pitched the idea for the show to Schultz at the time, and engaged in talks to develop it with Schultz and Schultz’s attorney over the next several months.

Queen said he pitched the show to several networks and helped Schultz develop a pilot.

But those pitches didn’t pan out. The following year, Schultz got a deal with MSNBC. Queen sought and was denied a cut, and his relationship with Schultz fell apart.

Queen’s claims hinged largely on an email from Schultz saying he would “agree to a 50-25-25 percentage formula of profits after expenses of the show,” with 25 percent going to Queen, 25 percent to another partner and 50 percent to Schultz.

In a later email, Schultz wrote: “Any TV deal will obviously involve you. I will not do a TV deal without your involvement and that includes financial involvement.”

But Judge Beryl Howell said the terms of a potential deal were never finalized, and Schultz never agreed to be bound by them.

While Schultz encouraged Queen to pursue a TV deal and provided “ongoing assurances that he would be rewarded with some compensation for his efforts, the amount and nature of that compensation was never agreed upon,” Howell wrote.

Howell also dismissed a countersuit in which Schultz claimed that Queen had misled him about a business opportunity and made libelous claims about Schultz.

Schultz said the accusations were damaging to his reputation.

“People who know me know that I don’t operate like that,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502