Former partners claim comic froze them out of profits

Radio personality Adam Carolla has been sued by producer Donald Misraje and two other business partners who claim that he froze them out of profits and other compensation from the podcast empire they helped create.

The suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday by Donny Misraje, Kathee Schneider-Misraje and Sandy Ganz, and it seeks unspecified damages for 11 causes of action.

The suit says that Misraje convinced Carolla to venture in to the podcast format after CBS Radio fired him in 2009, but that Carolla’s contract initially prevented him from selling advertising that would help bring in revenue. Instead, Misraje and his wife, Kathee, a creative director and producer, agreed to forgo compensation on Carolla’s assurances of future payoff. According to the suit, they tapped into a $200,000 home equity line of credit, and contributed at least $10,000 in technical equipment, hardware and other supplies.

The podcast, and the multimedia network built around it, took off, garnering attention for being able to monetize the format and launching other shows, the suit stated. But they said that as the show succeeded, Carolla froze them out from the profits, “all while he continues to reap the benefits of the business that plaintiffs conceived of and developed.” They said that Carolla “repeatedly acknowledged” the partnership agreement between himself, with 60%, Misraje, with 30% and Ganz, with 10%. Ganz, a technology expert, joined the company in April 2009 and was made a partner in October 2009.

The suit stated that in September 2011, Carolla informed the company staff that the Misrajes were leaving and later requested that Ganz “stop engaging” in partnership business.

The suit said that since dismissing Misraje and Ganz from the partnership, Carolla “has attempted to paint a picture for the public that Mr. Misraje as insubordinate, unable to ‘get along’ with anyone, unproductive and simply not ‘up to the job.’ “

“Such statements represent disingenuous rhetoric, as the Misrajes and Mr. Ganz spent years successfully developing the business aspects of the partnership and sacrificed much of their lives, professional reputations and personal net worth in reliance upon a future payoff promised by Carolla,” the suit stated.

The plaintiffs are represented by Gregory Doll of Doll, Amir & Eley.

A spokeswoman for Carolla did not immediately respond for comment.

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