A long-running legal battle between Cablevision and Dish Network ended Monday, but not before a Dish executive publicly apologized for accosting the elderly father of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher litigator Orin Snyder last week on her way out of the courtroom where the elderly man had just finished watching his son work.
“I’m a woman of integrity,” Dish Network vice president of programming Carolyn Crawford said to New York state trial court justice Richard Lowe III after the jury that had been hearing the three-week-long trial filed out of the courtroom. “My emotions got the best of me.”
While Crawford did not say specifically what she was apologizing for, Reuters and several other media outlets have reported that on October 16, after conferring with Lowe and lawyers for both parties in the case, she stormed out of court, stopping briefly to slap Snyder’s father on the back while saying, “Proud of your son?”
Earlier in the day, according to press accounts, Crawford had left the courtroom in tears after Lowe ordered that her hard drive be searched for evidence related to the dispute at the heart of the litigation and asked that she no longer sit in the courtroom because of her direct ties to the case. “That woman has been in this courtroom since day one,” Lowe said at one point, according to Reuters. “And if I had known what her position was in this case, I would never have permitted her to sit here.”
Snyder—a former federal prosecutor whom The American Lawyer named one of its 45 leading lawyers under age 45 in 2003—has declined to comment on the incident with his father, who was not in court Monday to hear Crawford’s apology. Morrison & Foerster partner James Bennett, who represented Dish in the litigation, declined to comment Monday as he led Crawford out of the courtroom.
Dish and Gibson Dunn client Cablevision settled the matter late Sunday, announcing that Dish has agreed to pay $700 million to the cable service provider and its former subsidiary AMC Networks. The settlement also calls for Dish to resume offering AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel, and other channels that the satellite TV provider had cut from its programming in July. (Sibling publication The Am Law Litigation Daily has more on the settlement here.)
The underlying dispute began in 2008 when Dish, then knows as EchoStar Communications Corp., terminated a 15-year programming contract with onetime Cablevision subsidiary Voom HD Holdings, which offered a package of high-definition channels including AMC, home to “Mad Men” and “The Walking Dead.” Cablevision, which sought $2.5 billion in damages in the case, spun off AMC Networks in 2011 (Voom is now an indirect subsidiary of AMC).
In another dramatic twist earlier this year, a New York appellate court upheld a lower court’s decision that Dish failed to preserve relevant emails once it knew litigation was imminent. As sibling publication New York Law Journal reported in February, a judge found that EchoStar acted negligently and in bad faith by destroying the emails.
Before adjourning the trial, Lowe offered his own apology for referring to Crawford as “that woman”—something he first said on October 16. Crawford thanked the judge for his remarks and said it was difficult to be a company representative amid such a heated trial. At some point during the proceedings, she said, it felt like the accusations being presented in court were “being personally charged at me.”
“I do understand the emotion that took over,” Lowe said.