NY judge reinstates Rather fraud claim against CBS

Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:25pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York judge reinstated part of former TV news anchor Dan Rather's $70 million lawsuit against CBS on Tuesday, although the ruling could be legally meaningless if an appeals court dismisses the entire case.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Ira Gammerman ruled that Rather could sue CBS Corp for fraud, relating to Rather's claim that CBS made him a scapegoat in a scandal over a 2004 report on then-President George W. Bush's military record.

Rather claims CBS breached his contract and its fiduciary duty in part by not giving him enough on-air assignments after he was removed as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" in March 2005.

In April, CBS argued before a state appellate court that the entire lawsuit should be thrown out. The appeal is pending and, if the higher court throws out the whole suit, Tuesday's ruling would be rendered legally moot.

In September, Gammerman threw out the fraud claim on grounds that Rather could not prove he had lost any income as a result of the network's actions.

On Tuesday, Gammerman accepted an amended complaint showing Rather's income had been reduced by several million dollars following his departure from CBS.

"This was for us a good day," Rather told reporters outside the courtroom, adding, "There's a long way to go."

CBS said it would appeal Gammerman's ruling.

"Today's rulings by Judge Gammerman were on technical and procedural issues, not on the merits of Mr. Rather's allegations," CBS said in a statement. "We also await the appellate division's decisions on pending motions which, we believe will further curtail his claims."   Continued...

<p>Dan Rather stands backstage after a tribute to the late Peter Jennings at the 57th annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California September 18, 2005. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>