Adam Carolla interviews a guest for his podcast at his home in Los Angeles (AP / Damian Dovarganes)
Talk show host Adam Carolla goes to trial on Tuesday against a former high school friend who claims Carolla owes him money over the podcast “The Adam Carolla Show.”
Donny Misraje sued Carolla last year for a share in a partnership that owns the podcast. Misraje claims he and his wife, Kathee Schneider-Misraje, along with his cousin, Sandy Ganz, helped Carolla set up the daily podcast version of his syndicated radio show after CBS canceled the program in 2009.
Carolla, who has brought in noted trial attorney Mark Geragos to represent him, asserts in court papers that there is no partnership and that he merely offered Misraje and Ganz a share in profits.
Gregory Doll, founding partner of Doll, Amir & Eley in Los Angeles, who represents the Misrajes and Ganz, insisted otherwise. “It’s clear that in all the meetings they had where they discussed the partnership, the word ‘partnership’ was used and the term ‘profit participation’ was never used,” he said.
Geragos, a principal at Geragos & Geragos in Los Angeles, said in an email to The National Law Journal: “We look forward to having a jury decide these issues.”
The trial is expected to last between seven and 10 days.
Misraje, a television editor, claimed in court papers that he and his wife left successful careers to help Carolla with the podcast. Under a 2009 agreement, Misraje said in court papers, Carolla owned 60 percent of the venture while he owned 30 percent and Ganz 10 percent.
“What everybody agrees is that they got together and they came and made a deal,” Doll said. “Adam now says … ‘I made that deal, and yes, we agreed to those percentages, but I’m talking about profit participation. They could get that percentage of the profits while they worked there, but they were never owners of the company.’ ”
By 2011, the relationship had soured; Carolla’s show, meanwhile, became the world’s most downloaded podcast, according to Guinness World Records, with nearly 60 million unique downloads.
Carolla in court papers has asserted that the podcast belongs to a corporation he formed in 2009 called Lotzi Digital Inc., of which he owns 100 percent. He claims that he has paid for the entire venture on his own.
Although no written contract exists detailing the terms of a partnership, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson on May 2 refused to toss out the case on summary judgment, concluding that Misraje had presented evidence that “Carolla often referred to his relationship with Misraje as a partnership … and that plaintiffs shared in partnership profits, contributed to the partnership and helped to manage the partnership.”
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