Breaking: Appeals court tosses Rather suit against CBS

posted at 2:52 pm on September 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The state court of appeals in New York has dismissed a lawsuit from Dan Rather against CBS for wrongful termination and $70 million in damages. The court was apparently not impressed with the claim that CBS did any more damage to his reputation than he did himself with a collection of fraudulent documents and unsubstantiated allegations:

Bad news for Dan Rather: His $70 million lawsuit against CBS is no more.

In a 19-page decision made public Tuesday, a state appeals court dismissed the legendary newsman’s suit against CBS. …

A lawyer for Rather and a CBS spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Jammie Wearing Fool hopes Rather will now slip into obscurity. That should be easy to do as a reporter for HDNet, of course. Obscurity is usually the final stop after humiliation, and in truth Rather has mostly arrived at that destination except for news about this lawsuit.

Will he appeal? What else does he have to do?

Update: More from the LA Times, which indicates a total repudiation of Rather’s claims:

But in its ruling, the appeals panel found that CBS did not violate the terms of Rather’s contract because it continued to pay him, citing the contract’s “pay or play” provision. The finding was a major blow to the longtime newsman, who had cast the suit as part of a broader effort to rein in the influence of corporations on news organizations. …

In its ruling, issued more than five months after the parties argued the case before the appellate division, the court reversed Judge Ira Gammerman’s decisions on the case.

“This Court finds that the motion court erred in denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, and therefore we find the complaint must be dismissed in its entirety,” the ruling said.

The appellate division found that Gammerman should have dismissed Rather’s breach of contract claim against CBS, rejecting the anchor’s argument that he was warehoused by the network constituted a violation of his deal.

“This claim attempts to gloss over the fact that Rather continued to be compensated at his normal CBS salary of approximately $6 million a year until June 2006 when the compensation was accelerated upon termination, consistent with his contract,” the court wrote. Rather’s contract did not require “that CBS actually use Rather’s services or broadcast any programs on which he appears, but simply retains the option of accelerating the payment of his compensation under the agreement if he is not assigned to either program.”

Rather’s legal team confirms that he plans to appeal.


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