Agents and media lawyers say one clause in Imus's contract, highlighted by Garbus, is highly unusual. It says his services "are of a unique, extraordinary, irreverent, intellectual, topical, controversial and personal character" and that programs containing these elements "are desired" by CBS and "are consistent with company rules and policies."It sounds like a great contracts case. High stakes too. The contract was worth $40 million, and he's going to claim other damages, covering "reduced income for Imus's private businesses and charities, as well as his future earnings in broadcasting."
But other contract language, obtained by The Washington Post, will be used by CBS lawyers to argue that the company had "just cause" to dump Imus. These clauses cover "any distasteful or offensive words or phrases" that CBS believes "would not be in the public interest" or could jeopardize its broadcast license, as well as language that brings the company or its advertisers "into public disrepute, contempt, scandal or ridicule, or which provokes, insults or offends the community or any group or class thereof."
A CBS spokesman declined to comment, but two people familiar with the company's strategy, who asked not to be identified discussing possible litigation, said the Rutgers comments were so outrageous as to trigger several clauses that they maintain did not require a warning to Imus.
Garbus dismissed that argument, saying: "CBS's interpretation of the contract, stringing together words from here and there, would render the clause meaningless. Contracts are not interpreted that way."
It's smart to make the charities relevant like that, not only as a way to extract more money from CBS, but also to expose the jury to information that makes Imus very sympathetic.
This will be very interesting. Think Imus should win?