January 12, 2010 / 5:54 PM / 9 years ago

NY top court rejects Dan Rather appeal in CBS case

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York State’s highest court on Tuesday declined to hear former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather’s appeal of a decision dismissing his $70 million lawsuit against CBS Corp.

The brief order by the New York State Court of Appeals leaves intact September’s unanimous dismissal of Rather’s case by a Manhattan appeals court.

Rather, 78, had accused CBS of breaching his contract by not providing him enough air time following his March 2005 removal as anchor, a job he had held for 24 years.

The removal followed a controversial September 2004 broadcast on “60 Minutes II” concerning then-U.S. President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

CBS has acknowledged it could not authenticate documents used in that report, which aired two months before Bush won a second term in the White House.

In a statement, Rather expressed disappointment with Tuesday’s order, calling it “a grave miscarriage of justice. Most of all I am disappointed that no court or jury studied the evidence and heard the actual facts of the case.”

The Manhattan appeals court had in September said that CBS had no obligation to use Rather’s services as long as it paid him what it contractually owed. It also said Rather failed to support his claim that he lost business opportunities because CBS failed to release him to seek other employment.

Rather left CBS in June 2006 after 44 years at the network. Viacom Inc, which ran the network at the time, spun off CBS in 2006.

The case is Rather vs. CBS Corp, New York State Court of Appeals, No. 2009-1196.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Bernard Orr

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