Dan Rather’s attorneys can depose Sumner Redstone, New York judge rules

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A New York state Supreme Court judge Monday ruled that Dan Rather’s attorneys can depose Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone in the veteran anchor’s lawsuit against CBS, saying repeatedly that he wants to see the case move forward to trial.

More than two years after Rather sued his former employer, claiming breach of contract and fraud, the longtime CBS newsman and his former employer are still disputing document procurement and discovery. During an often-testy afternoon hearing, Justice Ira Gammerman seemed impatient with the back-and-forth, dismissing efforts by Rather’s attorneys to obtain more documents from CBS related to the lobbying efforts of Viacom, its former parent company. But he also shot down CBS’ attempt to block Rather from subpoenaing Redstone, urging both parties to schedule the Viacom chief’s deposition as soon as possible.

“Let’s get this case moving,” Gammerman said.

Rather’s attorneys are seeking to depose at least 11 other witnesses, including former White House official Dan Bartlett, former Defense Secretary and Viacom board member William Cohen, and Bill Burkett, the former National Guard member who provided Rather with documents he used in a controversial 2004 story that claimed that then-President Bush used political influence to avoid military service. Martin Gold, Rather’s lead attorney, said he expected to be ready for trial by the end of December or January.

After the hearing, James Quinn, an attorney for CBS, said he remains confident that the case will be thrown out before then by the state Appellate division, which has yet to rule on CBS’ efforts to dismiss the suit.


-- Matea Gold