In Alycia Lane v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc., t/a KYW TV-3, Michael Colleran, et. al., Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, September Term, 2008, Civil Action No. 342, Judge Allan L. Tereshko issued rulings on December 12, 2012, dismissing all remaining claims against CBS and its former station manager, Michael Colleran.
Plaintiff Lane is a former evening anchorwoman for CBS in Philadelphia, who was terminated after she allegedly struck a New York City police officer and directed a homophobic slur at the officer. Plaintiff Lane sued CBS and Michael Colleran on various claims, including defamation, contending that CBS’ announcement of her termination was false and defamatory. She also asserted claims in negligence, invasion of privacy, violations of state wiretap statutes, and other torts against CBS and Mr. Colleran, contending that they wrongfully permitted Plaintiff’s co-anchor, Larry Mendte, to unlawfully access her private email communications, and share her private communications with gossip columnists. Representing Defendants CBS and Mr. Colleran, Elliott Greenleaf successfully secured dismissal of most claims during 2011, except for Plaintiffs claims based on defamation and negligence.
However, on December 12, 2012, after an extensive review of the record, a hearing on evidence spoliation, oral arguments, and extensive briefing, Judge Tereshko found that Plaintiff Lane had intentionally disposed of her personal laptop computer after filing her lawsuit, and that “without access to the data on Plaintiff’s disposed of computer, in its original form at the time it was created and stored and any subsequent modifications, Defendants CBS and Mendte are deprived of any meaningful defense and therefore suffer the ultimate prejudice,” and further that there was “no way to cure the harm to Defendants other than dismissal.” Accordingly, the Court dismissed all remaining claims against CBS and Mr. Colleran.
After a further thorough analysis of the record, and of the nature of Plaintiff Lane’s defamation and false light claims, the Court found that the words in a statement released by CBS announcing Plaintiff Lane’s termination “must be allowed to be read according to their own natural meaning”, and that CBS’ statement announcing Plaintiff’s termination was not defamatory as a matter of law, and therefore dismissed the Plaintiff’s defamation and false light claims as well.
Elliott Greenleaf’s trial team included John M. Elliott, Mark J. Schwemler, John P. Elliott, Gregory S. Voshell, Stewart J. Greenleaf, Jr., Colin J. O’Boyle, and senior executive paralegal, Lisa M. Bugda.