Crown Media got their family values handed to them today by a federal judge who unequivocally rejected the Hallmark Channel owner’s desire to toss ex-Home & Family co-host Mark Steines’ retaliation and wrongful termination lawsuit.
“Defendants’ motion to dismiss is denied, and Defendants’ motion to strike is denied,” wrote District Court Judge Cormac Carney definitively on Tuesday. Though the William Abbot run Crown will not see the matter remanded back to the state level, they lost every part of their November 11 filed motion.
“Plaintiffs allege that Defendants unfairly interfered with their rights under the contract by terminating Steines, without notice, in retaliation for reporting and opposing sexual harassment on the Home & Family set,” the 20-page order (read it here) notes in but one example in the Lisa Bloom represented Steines’ claims for retaliation, wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, failure to prevent retaliation, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. “These factual allegations plausibly allege a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” adds Judge Carney in what becomes variations on a theme in today’s document.
Crown Media did not tonight response to request for comment by Deadline on Tuesday’s order. However, Bloom was very straightforward in her response to her client’s good legal day. “We look forward to proving our case at trial, where we are confident we will prevail,” the lawyer told Deadline.
Kicked to the curb in late May after six years co-fronting the flagship lifestyle show created by Woody Fraser, Steines went public with the sordid BTS at Home & Family with the wide spread damages seeking case he filed in late September in Los Angeles Superior Court. Long story short, the ex-Entertainment Tonight frontman says he was sidelined, had his pay cut and was ultimately let go for sticking up for women Home & Family who had alleged harassment by Fraser.
The now ex-EP was eventually removed in by Crown Media after a duo of of HF female executives and other staffers took their long term claims to attorney Bloom and Steines complained to his corporate overlords. However, it seems that Steines’ internal move was not appreciated, to say the least and he was soon afterwards gone too.
“There is no merit to the legal claims Mr. Steines is asserting against Crown Media,” the Hallmark Channel owner said in September in response to their former host’s lawsuit. “Crown Media is also surprised that Lisa Bloom is representing Mr. Steines in this matter since she has a consulting agreement with Crown Media,” they add with no small bit of spite.
Yet, in late October, another legal action hit the LASC docket as former Home & Family food stylist and chef Shanti Hinojos hit Crown Media with a wrongful-termination and harassment suit of her own. A lawsuit that gave another POV on the tale Steines told but with very similar narrative.
That can’t feel very homey to Hallmark’s credibility.
Crown Media are represented by attorneys from LA’s Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP