With top moneymaker Chris Cuomo ousted, CNN might face a barrage of lawsuits

Shortly after CNN dismissed Cuomo on Saturday night, another woman accused him of sexual harassment.

Attorneys told FOX Business that if it is shown in court that CNN knew about sexual misconduct allegations against its recently departed star anchor Chris Cuomo but decided to ignore them, the liberal network may face a slew of lawsuits.

CNN might be on the hook for "seven figures," according to Benjamin Eghbali, CEO of the California-based legal firm Eghbali, unless it properly separates itself from Cuomo, who hosted the network's most-watched show, "Cuomo Prime Time," until last week.

CNN news anchor Chris Cuomo at the WarnerMedia Upfront in New York.
Caption

Cuomo's predicament will be evaluated to the same standard as the charges against Harvey Weinstein, according to Eghbali, who has fought on behalf of victims in "hundreds" of sexual harassment cases.

"They're going to attempt to pin it all on Chris Cuomo and claim they had no idea," Eghbali said. "So the plaintiff's duty will be to establish that CNN had some form of awareness and chose to ignore it... They won't be able to hold CNN accountable if they can't show that burden."

The sexual misconduct claims surfaced only days after CNN suspended their star anchor after learning how much he aided his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his fight against sexual harassment charges.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Monday, May 10, 2021, in New York.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Monday, May 10, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

According to The New York Times, the lady, who wishes to remain unnamed, made her charges against Chris Cuomo to CNN on Wednesday through her lawyer, Debra Katz. Her lawyer stated Sunday that she was "disgusted" by his hypocrisy and attempts to undermine women who made similar complaints against his brother.

The woman's accusation was made public after CNN dismissed "Cuomo Prime Time" host Chris Cuomo on Saturday night. Cuomo was also accused of harassment by former ABC News colleague Shelley Ross earlier this year; in a statement, he restated a prior apology, though he maintained that squeezing her buttock without permission was not meant to be sexual in nature.

Eghbali said Cuomo will likely try to prove that what the woman is alleging against him was consensual – an opinion shared by Karen Agnifilo, former chief assistant district attorney at the Manhattan D.A.’s office, now with the firm Geragos & Geragos. 

Chris Cuomo attends The Hollywood Reporter's annual Most Powerful People in Media cocktail reception on April 11, 2019, in New York.

Chris Cuomo attends The Hollywood Reporter's annual Most Powerful People in Media cocktail reception on April 11, 2019, in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Cuomo, the former CNN anchor, is expected to deploy the same argument his brother used when presented with similar claims, according to Agnifilo.

"I think [Gov. Cuomo’s] brother should do the Cuomo playbook: ‘We hugged, we kissed, we’re affectionate. It’s how we were raised,'" Agnifilo said.   

Regarding CNN’s possible role in the case, Agnifilo said the network will likely have to proceed with civil litigation in court, which will include "civil discovery."

"CNN will have to turn over things like emails and employee files and other discovery-related documents. And then people will have to sit for depositions and interrogatories, and depending on what comes out in all that will depend on whether they had knowledge or didn’t have knowledge," Agnifilo said. "All that stuff comes out in the course of civil litigation, or they settle and it never comes out." 

CNN has not responded to GAG request for comment. The company released a statement Saturday announcing it had fired Cuomo. 

The network said despite Cuomo's termination, "we will investigate as appropriate." 

The AP contributed to this report.

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