Voom Litigation Gets Testy

Dish Executive Storms From Court; Trial Adjourns Until Monday

After a bizarre day where one Dish executive stormed teary-eyed from the court room, briefly pushing the elderly father of one of the plaintiff’s attorneys and prompting an aborted call for the local constabulary, both sides of the increasingly contentious litigation between Voom HD and the satellite giant are taking a breather.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Richard Lowe dismissed the jury early Wednesday so attorneys for both sides could work on “legal issues,” according to one attendee of the trial. Court is dark on Thursday and Friday due to juror conflicts and all parties should return on Monday to resume cross examination of former Dish vice chairman and current senior adviser Carl Vogel. It is expected that Dish chairman Charlie Ergen could also take the stand on Monday.

While Wednesday was a subdued day in court, Tuesday was a humdinger according to several published reports and eyewitness accounts. Dish Network programming  chief Carolyn Crawford, after a heated exchange with Voom lawyer Orin Snyder while the jury was not present, stormed from the courtroom, tapping the attorney’s 83-year old father on the back, sarcastically stating “I hope you are proud of your son” as she exited, according to an account in the New York Post. That prompted the younger Snyder to accuse Crawford of pushing his elderly father, and demanding that police be called. Cooler heads later prevailed and it was determined the services of the NYPD were not required.

Crawford was one of the executives in charge of handling the Voom deal, and Snyder had said in court that she had “double deleted”  e-mails from her computer’s  hard drive that were essential to the case. Judge Lowe ordered Crawford’s current hard drive be seized and said she would no longer be allowed to observe the trial.

“That woman has been in this courtroom since day one, and if I had known what her position was in this case, I never would have permitted her to sit in this courtroom,” Judge Lowe said of Crawford, according to the Post.

That remark, for which the Judge quickly apologized , apparently set Crawford storming out of the courtroom, touching off the earlier bizarre events.  She later returned, and according to the Post, approached attorneys at the bench, “sobbing and talking about her reputation.”

Dish Network did not reply to a request for comment.

 According to the Post, Crawford has asked for a chance to apologize to the court and the Snyders on Monday.

The outburst was just another twist in what has become an increasingly bizarre trial. Earlier in the week, Judge Lowe said an expert Dish wanted to take the stand to refute Voom’s claim of damages could not testify because he was not qualified. Lowe had earlier berated Dish attorneys  for behavior he said could delay the case and possibly cause a mistrial.

Voom is suing Dish for $2.4 billion in damages stemming from the satellite giant cancelling a 15-year deal to carry Voom programming in 2008. The court had earlier ruled that Dish had destroyed evidence that would have been key to Voom’s case.