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Judge throws out much of Dan Rather lawsuit against CBS

April 10, 2008 | 11:00 am

A Manhattan judge today tossed out a large part of Dan Rather’s $70-million lawsuit against CBS, dismissing the suit’s claims that the network and top executives committed fraud and hurt their former anchor’s ability to seek new work.

In his ruling, Judicial Hearing Officer Ira Gammerman dismissed four of the claim’s seven causes of action, including those that specifically named Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone, CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward as defendants.

“We’re obviously very pleased,” said James Quinn, CBS’ attorney. “We’ve said from the beginning that CBS did everything appropriately and paid Mr. Rather every nickel he was owed. It’s kind of like a grudge match he couldn’t let go.”

Rather and his attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

The veteran newsman sued his former employer in September, alleging that CBS broke the terms of his contract and damaged his reputation in his final months at the broadcast network.

In his claim, Rather said that the network sought to use him as a scapegoat for a controversial story that claimed President Bush got preferential treatment during his Vietnam-era service with the Texas Air National Guard. The piece, which Rather reported on the weekday edition of “60 Minutes,” was eventually found to be based on documents that could not be authenticated.

In the ensuing furor, Rather claimed, CBS sought to minimize his role at the network. The longtime anchor alleged that after he stepped down from “CBS Evening News” in March 2005, he was sidelined and denied the support staff and airtime his contract guaranteed. His requests to cover stories in Iraq and Afghanistan were shot down, he said.

Gammerman did allow Rather’s claim of breach of contract to go forward, as well as his claim that CBS breached its fiduciary duty in its dealings with him.

Quinn called what remained of the suit “a garden-variety contract dispute.”

“At the end of discovery, it’s our intention to move to get rid of the rest of the case,” he added.

-- Matea Gold