In a filing last week, attorneys for Simon & Schuster once again called Milo Yiannopoulos’s breach of contract suit a “meritless publicity stunt,” and asked the court to dismiss the case.
In its July 28 reply, S&S attorneys stress that the publisher had the “unambiguous” legal right to terminate the contract, and that it did so legally. But the publisher’s key argument for dismissal is that its February 22 termination notice clearly stated that allowing Yiannopoulos to keep the first $80,000 of the advance, and reverting the book rights back to him, (which Yiannopoulos then exploited before filing suit) constituted “full satisfaction” of S&S’s obligations under the original contract.
“When Yiannopoulos accepted the payment without protest, he agreed to the condition as a matter of law, thereby creating a new contract between the parties, discharging any obligations arising out of the original Agreement,” the filing states.
Yiannopoulos then waited approximately five months to file suit "in a naked attempt to drum up publicity for the publication of his book, released days earlier, amidst baseless public statements that Defendant attempted to censor and silence him," the filing goes on to state, arguing that the court should "dismiss this matter in its entirety with prejudice and put an end to Yiannopoulos’s self-promotional misuse of judicial resources."
In the lawsuit, filed on July 7, Yiannopoulos’s attorneys contend that S&S illegally terminated the contract using the “obviously false pretext” that the manuscript was unacceptable only after Milo’s controversial comments on pedophilia got him disinvited from CPAC and ousted from Breitbart News. Yiannopoulos is seeking $10 million in damages.
S&S attorneys counter that the contract “unambiguously” grants the publisher the right to terminate the contract for “multiple and subjective reasons,” including if in its “sole good judgment” the book “is not acceptable to it.”
The contract, they add, is also “unequivocal” that upon termination, Yiannopoulos was obligated to repay any advance payments, and "only then" would the book rights revert to the author. By keeping the $80,000 advance payment, S&S argues that Yiannopoulos accepted the termination, and thus negated any breach claim.
In their original complaint, Yiannopoulos's attorneys framed the publishers' decision to let Milo keep the $80,000 advance payment as "a transparent attempt to placate him so that he would not file the instant lawsuit." And in a July 11 letter, after the book was published, they rejected the idea that letting Milo keep the advance payment constituted a settlement, but rather serves as "an admission" that S&S wrongly terminated the contract.
Meanwhile, in another filing, Yiannopoulos's attorneys last week asked the court for a preliminary conference, and to move the matter over to the court’s Commercial Division—a move that, if granted, could expedite the case.