Keith Olbermann threatens to sue Current TV, evokes AIDS case of Clarence B Cain


Olbermann poses behind a mask of Fox's Bill O'Reilly at the 2006 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour for NBC in Pasadena, California.

Responding to his firing yesterday, Keith Olbermann shot a stinging salvo back at his former employers — evoking the famous plight of a man wrongly fired for having AIDS and threatening to sue, according a statement carried by Politico.

In announcing Olbermann’s departure, Current TV co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt wrote in an open memo the show’s founding values — “respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty” — were “no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.”

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In his risposte, Olbermann suggested that this vague explanation for his dismissal had been defamatory.

“It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current's statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently,” Olbermann said.

“To understand Mr. Hyatt's ‘values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty,’ I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee's name was Clarence B Cain.”

Who was Clarence B Cain?

Hyatt is the founder of Hyatt Legal Services, which was ordered to pay $157,000 in punitive damages in 1990 after illegally firing Cain, the head of its Philadelphia office, because the company had discovered he had AIDS.

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According to The New York Times, US Judge Raymond Broderick found that Hyatt Legal Services had waged a ''corrupt assault'' on Cain’s dignity and that Hyatt’s conduct ''was not merely inexcusably insensitive'' but ''so outrageous'' the damages were justified.

Cain’s case is similar to that of Geoffrey Bowers, another Philadelphia lawyer wrongfully dismissed for having AIDS in 1987 in a case that inspired the Oscar-winning 1993 film Philadelphia.