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The Paul, Weiss Litigation Department is led by a team of the country’s most accomplished trial lawyers. Our litigators handle the most complex and demanding lawsuits, class actions, government investigations, criminal prosecutions and restructurings. Our clients include Fortune 50 corporations and other prominent companies in the financial services, investment, medical device, pharmaceutical, sports, technology, energy, media and insurance industries. Every day, we are called on by chief executives, board chairs, general counsel, investors and entrepreneurs for our unmatched trial skills, sophisticated business judgment and renowned strategic advice.
Paul, Weiss Wins Verdict and Counterclaim Award for Bloomberg LP in Multimillion-Dollar Broadcast Licensing Dispute
- Client News
- May 14, 2021
Paul, Weiss secured a resounding trial victory for our client Bloomberg L.P., ending a high-stakes international broadcast licensing dispute. In a decision issued May 14, a New York federal district judge ruled that Optima, a Nigerian broadcasting company, had failed to prove any of its claims against Bloomberg; the judge also awarded Bloomberg $17.4 million on its breach-of-contract counterclaims, as well as attorneys’ fees and other costs.
The defense verdict in Optima Media Group Limited et al. v. Bloomberg L.P. followed a nine-day bench trial in October 2020 in one of the first remote trials conducted in the Southern District of New York under pandemic protocols.
The dispute arose after Bloomberg terminated a license agreement with Optima, which had contracted with Bloomberg to produce live, Bloomberg-branded content for distribution in Africa, in 2013. In its complaint, Optima alleged that Bloomberg improperly terminated the agreement under New York law and owed it more than $50 million in damages. Optima also claimed that Bloomberg’s stated reasons for termination were pretextual, and that Bloomberg actually terminated out of concern for potential “reputational damage” that might result from a purported media inquiry in April 2015 by a journalist who Optima claimed was threatening to make public alleged late-payment issues.
In its defense, Bloomberg argued that Optima failed to meet its core responsibilities under the agreement to produce live programming under the Bloomberg name, that Optima’s insolvency permitted termination under the license agreement, and that Optima’s representations and warranties were no longer true. In an all-virtual “Zoom” trial beginning October 5, the Paul, Weiss team showed that Optima was insolvent at the time of termination; had repeatedly failed to pay its licensing fees on time and was $750,000 in arrears; failed to build a studio capable of launching live program; and failed to pay taxes, among other failures.
The trial included testimony from six witnesses, including the CEO of Bloomberg Media, and deposition testimony from five others; in a key development, Optima’s counsel at trial was forced to admit that the company had become insolvent by the date that Bloomberg terminated.
In her 51-page decision, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan ruled that Bloomberg properly terminated the agreement on the grounds that Optima had become insolvent and that Optima’s representations and warranties were no longer true, citing “mountains of evidence” that Optima was incapable of meeting its obligations. “The evidence at trial shows that the ‘magnitude of [OMG’s] default’ was so severe that it had a fatal effect on the ‘contract’s purpose,’” Judge Nathan wrote. The judge also ruled that Optima failed to satisfy its programming obligations, management obligations and payment obligations to Bloomberg, awarding damages to Bloomberg on its breach of contract claim.
The trial team was led by litigation partner Lorin Reisner and included litigation associates Marissa Doran, Nicholas Handler, Luke O’Brien and Naomi Jeehee Yang. Litigation partners Bruce Birenboim and Brad Karp provided strategic and pretrial support.