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Rather's Request for an Appeal Rejected by NY York State Supreme Court

January 13, 2010

In a previous blog, our California Employment Lawyers reported on the high profile two-year Dan Rather employment lawsuit--in which Dan Rather, former CBS Evening News anchor, accused CBS network of breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and ruining his reputation, after spending 44 years as an employee of CBS. The case was dismissed in September of last year, in the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, and Rather made plans to appeal.

Yesterday, New York's highest court denied Rather's request for an appeal, declining to hear the former CBS Anchor's motion to reinstate the $70 million lawsuit--leaving the dismissal of the case by the Manhattan appeals court from September intact, and marking a seeming end to the embittered and costly legal battle.

In the lawsuit, Rather claimed that CBS had breached his contract by not giving him enough broadcast time, after he was removed from news anchor in March 2005. Rather alleged that CBS set him up be the scapegoat for the controversial 60 Minutes broadcast from 2004, in which President George W. Bush's Vietnam War service the Texas Air National Guard questioned.

After the broadcast, Rather and CBS received criticism for the story, especially from conservative partisans who claimed that Rather was trying influence the presidential race from 2004. The authenticity of the documents was questioned, CBS conducted an internal investigation, and determined that the story was inaccurate. Rather was forced to apologize for the journalistic errors. The episode was called "Rathergate," by the media, and according to Rather the experience cost him substantial financial loss, as well as damage to his reputation. Bush won his second term as President of the United States two months later.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Rather's decision to sue CBS in 2007 caused strain in his professional relationships, and he received journalistic criticism for trying to pass blame for the inaccuracy of the 60 Minutes broadcast that had not been fully researched. Rather clams to have made a career out of fighting for journalistic freedom, and this case has represented a mission to take on the political and business interests that he believes are influencing news organizations.

Rather was publicly disappointed with the decision made yesterday, and stated that the order was a serious "miscarriage of justice." He had hoped that case would be resurrected and brought to justice, but the Court of Appeals denied the request. In the original lawsuit, Rather sought $70 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

In September 2009, the Manhattan appeals court wrote that CBS was not obliged to use Rather as long as he was paid what the contract stated he was owed. The court also wrote that Rather had no grounds on which to claim fraud, and that he had failed to support the complaint that CBS damaged his career opportunities in the future. The judges also stated that Rather could not sue for breach of fiduciary duty because CBS didn't owe Rather a fiduciary.

Our qualified labor and employment lawyers at Howard Law, PC in Anaheim, California, are experienced in working with employees to obtain breach of contract compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

NY Top Court Rejects Dan Rather Appeal in CBS Case, ABC News, January 12, 2010

Dan Rather Loses Bid in CBS Lawsuit, Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2009

Rather's Appeal Request Rejected by Court, The New York Times, January 12, 2009

Breaking: Appellate Court Dismisses Dan Rather's Lawsuit Against CBS; Rather Vows to Appeal, Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Dan Rather Files $70 Million Lawsuit Against CBS, Parent Company Viacom, Fox News/AP, September 29, 2007