Chris Cuomo and CNN are both bracing for a big fight in court after the anchor was fired last week. Sources familiar with the situation told The New York Post that Cuomo will sue CNN for at least $18 million, claiming the network breached its contract with him. They also said that CNN has "no intention of paying Cuomo a penny."
Cuomo was suspended on Tuesday after new evidence revealed how much help he gave to his brother, form New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in evading the sexual misconduct allegations against him. On Tuesday, CNN was warned of a sexual misconduct allegation against Chris Cuomo as well, and on Saturday the network officially fired him. According to Puck News, Cuomo has hired litigator Bryan Freedman to represent him in the case – the same lawyer who handled Megyn Kelly's departure from NBC News. CNN has hired litigator Daniel Petrocelli, who previously represented WarnerMedia.
BREAKING: Chris Cuomo and CNN have lawyered up over his firing, reports @MattBelloni. Cuomo has hired litigator Bryan Freedman, who handled Megyn Kelly’s NBC exit, and CNN is working with WarnerMedia litigator Daniel Petrocelli.— Puck (@PuckNews) December 7, 2021
Both lawyers have a challenging case ahead of them in interpreting Cuomo's 4-year contract signed in 2020, and in proving what the two parties knew about, and when. Cuomo believes CNN violated his employment contract, entitling him to at least $18 million in lost wages, and perhaps more for damages. However, sources told the Post that CNN believes it is fully covered by the terms of the contract.
"CNN has a standard morality clause in their contract that says if the employee does anything of disrepute, they can be immediately fired," they explained. They also noted that "if he gets a settlement, there would be an uproar," since Cuomo himself is now accused of sexual misconduct.
The new evidence released last week that cost Cuomo his job included testimony detailing his role in his brother's legal and publicity team. He reportedly used his media contacts to keep track of which reporters were working on stories about the governor's sexual misconduct allegations, and to try to discredit his accusers wherever possible. He even chased one lead personally which ended up leading nowhere.
Cuomo issued a public statement on Saturday night saying that he did not believe he had done anything wrong. He wrote: "This is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother. So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN's #1 show in the most competitive time slot. I owe them all and will miss that group of special people who did really important work."