An appellate division of the New York Supreme Court ruled today in favor of CBS over Dan Rather, dismissing Mr. Rather’s $70 million suit against his former employers in its entirety.
“For the reasons set forth below, 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,” reads today’s decision.
“At the outset, we find that Supreme Court erred in declining to dismiss Rather’s breach of contract claim against CBS,” the court added. “Rather’s cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty must also be dismissed.”
“We are obviously very happy,” Jim Quinn, a lawyer for CBS in the case told The Observer. “We thought this was the right decision all along.”
“We are extremely disappointed with the Appellate Court’s decision,” Mr. Rather’s legal team said in a statement this afternnoon. “We believe the decision is incorrect on a number of grounds and, accordingly, we intend to ask the New York Court of Appeals to review it.”
Mr. Rather first filed his civil lawsuit against the Tiffany Network in September of 2007. For the past two years, Mr. Rather’s legal team has been wrangling with CBS lawyers in a long series of pre-trial skirmishes.
For the most part, New York Supreme Court justice Ira Gammerman has been receptive to Mr. Rather’s various motions, and lenient in allowing his legal team to define the scope of the complaint.
Recently, for instance, Mr. Gammerman ruled that Viacom chief Sumner Redstone would have to sit for a deposition in the case, despite CBS’ objections.
The court’s decision today will spare CBS the possibility of a potentially embarrassing public trial, pitting network executives against the Category-5 newsman who for several decades served as the public face of the organization.
It has been reported that to date Mr. Rather has spent millions of his own dollars in advancing the suit, which deals with CBS’ handling of the aftermath of the flawed report on 60 Minutes II about President George W. Bush’s military service in the Texas Air National Guard.
Along the way, the discovery process in the case has turned up thousands of documents, detailing what was happening behind the scenes at CBS during the public uproar that became known as “Rathergate.” Some of those documents have since been made public. But the vast majority of the papers have yet to be entered into open court–and, now, may never be.