The Media Mob has learned that after several months of hearing from lawyers on both sides of the case, Justice Ira Gammerman of the New York Supreme Court has just made a ruling regarding CBS’s motion to dismiss the $70 million civil lawsuit that Dan Rather initially brought against CBS back on Sept. 19, 2007.
In short: The case will proceed on a limited basis.
Lawyers for CBS did succeed, however, in knocking down several major aspects of Mr. Rather’s suit.
To wit: Mr. Rather’s initial complaint contained a wide range of allegations against executives at the Tiffany Network, including essentially seven causes for action, ranging from breach of contract to fraud to prima facie tort.
A number of those causes for action—including the claim of fraud—have been dismissed. However, according to Mr. Rather’s legal team, three issues are still in play—involving claims of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and tortious inducement of breach of contract. Also, the $70 million claim for damages remains on the table.
But on a day when reports of Katie Couric’s problems at CBS News have made major headlines, lawyers for CBS say the network has something to be very happy about.
"We are extremely happy with the results," said James Quinn, the lawyer for the CBS defendants. "[The justice] has essentially thrown out the core allegations of the complaint with regard to the fraud. He dismissed all the claims against the individual defendants: Les Moonves, Sumner Redstone and Andrew Heyward. What’s left in the case is a garden-variety contract dispute."
UPDATE: Mr. Rather’s legal team just sent us the following statement from their attorney Martin Gold:
Justice Gammerman issued a decision today which leaves in place the entire essence of Mr. Rather’s lawsuit against CBS and Viacom, including both contract and tort claims. Although not every legal theory of the case survives, as a result of the decision, the Court has permitted discovery and a trial of all of the factual issues that form the basis of Mr. Rather’s lawsuit, including his $70 million claim for compensatory and punitive damages. The defendants’ statement that all that is left is a “garden variety contract dispute” is simply inaccurate.