Image via WikipediaNew York Supreme Court Judge Ira Gammerman yesterday breathed new life into former CBS anchor Dan Rather's $70 million lawsuit against CBS and Viacom.
Judge Gammerman restored the fraud claim in Rather's complaint that he previously tossed in September 2008, on the basis that the 75-year-old Rather could not prove damages arising from the defendants' conduct. Additionally, Gammerman ordered the defendants to turn over more than 3,000 documents to Rather's attorney as part of discovery.
Rather's counsel believe the documents may reveal evidence of efforts by CBS to influence the panel that investigated a controversial "60 Minutes" report about former President George W. Bush's Air National Guard record, which led to Rather's dismissal. Defense counsel unsuccessfully argued attorney-client privilege in attempting to avoid turning over documents, including Emails between the investigating panel and the law firm of K & L Gates that performed investigatory work for panel members.
Rather sued in September 2007, alleging his reputation and career were damaged by the panel's unfavorable report, which Rather said was biased. Former Attorney General and Republican Gov. of Pennsylvania Richard Thornburgh and ex-Associated Press head Louis D. Boccardi were panel members who examined the "60 Minutes" report.
Judge Gammerman accepted the fraud count in the amended complaint because Rather alleged damage, namely, a reduction in earnings since he lost his post as CBS Evening News Anchor and "60 Minutes" correspondent. Rather currently produces "Dan Rather Reports" for cable channel HDNet.
CBS and Viacom attorneys are expected to appeal Judge Gammerman's ruling.