WASHINGTON -- After deliberating for about two hours, a federal jury on Monday cleared Ed Schultz in a lawsuit filed by a former NBC engineer who claimed he was Schultz's spurned business partner.
Michael Queen filed the suit in May 2011, saying he helped develop "The Ed Show"--the MSNBC political talk show the former Fargo newscaster and sportscaster hosts. Queen sought 25 percent of Schultz's salary for the show, a figure he believed he was entitled to based on verbal and email exchanges with Schultz's camp.
"We refused to settle and fought it and got justice," Schultz said Monday.
In August 2012, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C., dismissed the suit, which claimed that Schultz owed Queen more than $100,000. The judge ruled there wasn't enough evidence that a legally enforceable contract was ever struck.
A federal appeals court upheld that ruling in April 2014, but the court also found that a jury could decide Queen's claim that he and Schultz formed a partnership to create the show and that Schultz breached his legal obligations within that partnership.
The jury decided that based on the preponderance of the evidence, it didn't believe a partnership existed between Schultz and Queen, according to court records. The trial in Washington lasted about a week.
Schultz, who hosted a liberal radio talk show in Fargo for years before he got a deal with MSNBC in 2009, first met Queen in 2008, when Queen was working as an NBC broadcast engineer and Schultz was visiting NBC's Washington offices.
According to court documents, Queen said he first pitched the idea for the show to Schultz during the visit, and engaged in talks to develop it with Schultz and Schultz's attorney over the next several months. Queen said he pitched the show to networks and helped Schultz develop a pilot, court documents stated.
Those pitches didn't pan out, but Queen unsuccessfully sought a cut of the MSNBC deal.
Queen conceded there was never a signed contract, but he claimed he had emails that demonstrated they had a legally enforceable agreement.
Schultz has always maintained he never had a deal with Queen. He said Monday he is glad the lawsuit is over and that it had been a strain on his family.
"We're just excited that this long legal ordeal is over with," Schultz said.