Al Jazeera relaunched the network as Al Jazeera America last year.
The lawsuit was filed under seal in the Delaware Court of Chancery, but Gore and Hyatt’s attorney David Boies said in a statement, “Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago. We are asking the Court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current’s former shareholders.”
The lawsuit was filed under seal at the request of Al Jazeera, Boies said, but they have filed a motion to unseal it.
“We do not believe that our complaint should be sealed,” Boies said. “However, despite being a news organization, Al Jazeera America has said that the full complaint should be kept from the public file. We have therefore filed the complaint under seal until the court can resolve this issue. We expect that the court will reject Al Jazeera America’s argument.”
Gore and Hyatt sold the network, reportedly for $500 million, in a deal reached in January, 2013. That was considered a very high price for Current, based on the prices for other recent network sales.
According to a source familiar with the case, the lawsuit is about Gore and Hyatt’s claim that Al Jazeera “unlawfully refused” to turn over “tens of millions of dollars” currently in escrow.
The lawsuit claims fraud and numerous breaches of the merger agreement reached to sell Current to Al Jazeera. Gore, who was executive chairman of the board of Current, and Hyatt, who was CEO, are the named plaintiffs, and are suing on behalf of all of the selling shareholders.
A spokeswoman for Al Jazeera America said in a statement, “Our outside counsel is reviewing the complaint. We think it relates to a commercial dispute between former shareholders of Current Media and Al Jazeera America.
“We may have further comment once they’ve fully reviewed everything.”
Boies and Chris Duffy from Boies, Schiller & Flexner are representing Gore and Hyatt, with Greg Varallo and Rudy Koch of Richards, Layton & Finger their counsel in Delaware.