12:37pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Adam Carolla Settles Lawsuit Over Popular Podcast Business in Midst of Trial
A day after being cross-examined on the witness stand at a trial in Los Angeles Superior Court, Adam Carolla has come to a settlement with his ex-producer Donny Misraje, a former long-time friend who helped the comedian and Fox News contributor build what has been called the world’s most downloaded podcast.
Misraje, his wife, Kathee, and his cousin Sandy Ganz, sued in January 2013, claiming that a partnership agreement entitled them to a big stake in the show's profits. Misraje alone wanted 30 percent, and contrary to some news reports that Carolla's podcast business didn't make much money, the plaintiff asserted that it raked in $14 million.
Carolla attempted to avoid a trial with arguments that his relationship with Misraje was best understood as employer-employee, but L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson pointed to evidence that Carolla had once used the "partnership" description himself and ruled that it was an issue to be determined at trial.
The trial began last Tuesday.
On the witness stand, Misraje described the oral deal that he believed he had struck with Carolla and why it wasn't put down on paper. “We weren't lawyers, [we] weren’t businessmen,” said Misraje, who left his job to start up the podcast enterprise with Carolla when his friend's syndicated radio talk show for CBS was canceled. He was fired in September 2011.
On Monday, Carolla offered his own retort to the plaintiff, saying that the word "partners" is "a term that's used quite liberally," giving the example of the writing partner with whom he's working on a fourth book. The comedian also portrayed Misraje as once demanding as much as 50 percent of profits for his work. Carolla believes they never came to formal terms.
After a week of testimony, the trial was headed into the final stretches with Misraje just about to bring forward his expert witness who would talk about Carolla's profits. The judge limited much of the witness' forthcoming discussion about revenue up to 2012 and a valuation of the business at that point.
Then, a break happened, Misraje's lawyer Gregory Doll conferred with Carolla's Mark Geragos, and the two were able to come to an agreement to put the case to bed. No terms have been disclosed, although Doll says he's happy with the arrangement. The settlement cuts short the trial, which was likely to conclude by the end of the week.