Dolan Son Gets $21M in Cablevision Suit Settlement

Cablevision Systems said it has settled a nearly five-year old suit with founder Charles Dolan’s son Thomas, agreeing to pay him $21 million to cancel wrongful termination litigation he brought against the company after the demise of its former Voom HD service.

According to documents filed with the SEC, Cablevision paid Thomas Dolan on Feb. 8. As part of that settlement, Cablevision founder and chairman Charles Dolan and CEO James Dolan have agreed to pay an aggregate of $6 million to the company as partial reimbursement in the event Cablevision’s planned merger with Altice is not consummated.

In the SEC filing, Cablevision said the payment to Thomas Dolan is permitted by its merger agreement with Altice N.V. and “does not reduce or otherwise affect the consideration payable to the company’s stockholders under the merger agreement.”

Thomas Dolan brought the suit in New York State Supreme Court in 2011 and in April 2015 the court granted a summary judgment to the plaintiff on liability, with damages to be determined. In June 2015, Cablevision filed a notice of appeal. Thomas Dolan is currently executive vice president, strategy and development at Cablevision. In 2004 he was named president and CEO of Voom, the former HD unit of  programming arm of Rainbow Media.

Cablevision had high hopes for Voom and its original HD content, but soon discovered the unit was moot after practically every other content provider offered its own programming in HD. The unit -- which was shuttered in 2008 -- was the source of another high-profile litigation – against Dish Network, which had signed on as its first big distribution customer. Dish settled that suit in 2012  for about $700 million, of which Cablevision received about $525 million.

“This matter from a decade ago has been settled," Cablevision said in a statement. "It has been handled by an Independent Committee of the Board of Directors and the company will have no comment.”