Updated with complaint below
Fired Fox News entertainment columnist Roger Friedman filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Fox News, News Corp, 20th Century Fox and Rupert Murdoch in New York State Supreme Court Monday, the Huffington Post has learned.
In the suit, Friedman seeks $5,180,000 in damages for wrongful termination, tortious interference, and libel defamation.
Friedman was fired in April after reviewing a copy of 20th Century Fox blockbuster "Wolverine" that had leaked online, a move seen as an implicit endorsement of piracy.
Friedman, who now writes for the Hollywood Reporter,
is expected to allege that the piracy incident was an excuse to fire him, and that News Corp really bowed to pressure from Scientologists, who had been seeking his dismissal over columns critical of Scientology.
Update: In the complaint, seen below, Friedman does not allege that News Corp caved to pressure from Scientologists to fire him. Though the complaint does make reference to Scientology — namely that editor Refet Kaplan suggested that some of the blog backlash to Friedman's column may have been motivated by his columns criticizing Scientology — it never alleges that Scientologists pressured News Corp to fire Friedman. Rather, it claims that the copy of "Wolverine" that Friedman viewed was a copy of the movie that had leaked from Murdoch's control and that Friedman was fired to cover up Murdoch's mistake:
20th Century Fox, NewsCorp and Rupert Murdoch induced and compelled Fox News to terminate Friedman's contract in part to cover up the fact that the version of "Wolverine" that Roger Friedman saw online was actually a copy of the work print of "Wolverine" which had been in the possession and control of Murdoch.
The complaint also references a January 2009 article from the London Times — also owned by News Corp — which gave detailed instructions on how to download pirated movies but which resulted in no penalties for its writers.
The complaint also reveals that Friedman earned $250,000 annually, and is seeking $180,000 for wrongful termination (the remainder of his contract, which was set to expire at the end of this year). He is seeking the additional $5 million for libel defamation.
Full complaint below, embedded via DocStoc: