Ex-MSG boss strikes out in Steinbrenner lawsuit

BY foxsports • January 27, 2010

A judge threw out a lawsuit accusing New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner of breaking a promise to make a former Madison Square Garden president a big part of the team's television network.

Robert Gutkowski cannot under New York law rely on his claims that he and Steinbrenner had an oral agreement, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan said in a ruling Tuesday. The judge added that it was also too late to bring the claims.

Gutkowski sued Steinbrenner in August, saying he suggested creating the Yankees-operated television network more than a decade ago. He was seeking at least $43 million in damages.

Gutkowski's lawyer, Neil Brickman, said: ``We're still reviewing and determining whether we have any realistic prospect of appealing the decision.''

A spokesman for George Steinbrenner, Howard J. Rubenstein, said: ``We said at the time the suit was filed that it was patently false and frivolous. We were proven correct.''

Gutkowski's lawsuit described him as the ``conceptual architect'' of the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network, which was valued at $845 million when it debuted in March 2002.

The lawsuit said Gutkowski urged Steinbrenner in 1996 to create a Yankees television network and that his work helped lead to the creation of it.

In his ruling, Sullivan said Gutkowsky's claims were inadequate in numerous respects.

He said the ``purported oral agreement is unenforceable'' under state law and the statute of limitations had expired because the lawsuit was filed more than six years after the YES Network debuted.

Under New York law, a contract must be sufficiently definite to be enforceable, the judge wrote.

He said Gutkowsky's claims that Steinbrenner told him he would be ``fairly compensated for his idea and efforts'' lacked a specific amount to be paid or a time span over which it would occur.

Gutkowski was president of Madison Square Garden Corp., which owns and operates the arena, from 1991 through 1994.

MSG is owned by Cablevision Systems Corp., based in Bethpage, N.Y.

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