WIBX Wins Challenge to Gordon Lawsuit/Subpoenas of Keeler and Rondenelli
It's the end of a soap opera script that was so far fetched, it might have actually been born out of a soap opera storyline. The lawsuit filed by former resident David Gordon against Townsquare Media, WIBX's Bill Keeler, County Executive Anthony Picente and others was dismissed back in February by State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte. Sadly, it didn't end there.
After the State Supreme Court Judge Scott Delconte deemed Gordon's charges of indiscretion by his opponent during a political campaign unfounded and false, and charges against Keeler and WIBX of slander and defamation, unfounded and false, Gordon was sued by the former female county staff member who was specifically named in his public accusations. (WIBX will not print or broadcast the name of the accused as the charges brought against her by Gordon have been deemed false and unfounded.)
The court awarded the former staff member summary judgement on liability in 2020 in regards to defamatory comments Gordon made about her and as a result, a jury is scheduled to hear arguments to determine damages at a proceeding to begin on June 7th.
The latest court ruling comes after Gordon subpoenaed WIBX's Keeler and WIBX News Director Jim Rondenelli to testify in the court proceeding. Attorneys for Keeler and Rondenelli argued that the WIBX employees were not party to the lawsuit and ultimately their testimony would not be relevant to the case, as it was already ruled that any published stories or broadcast reports about Gordon were covered by Journalists' Privilege under New York's Shield Law.
"Gordon fails to submit the clear and specific evidence demonstrating that the subpoenaed material is "(i) highly materia[ and relevant," (ii) critical to his defense, and (iii) "not obtainable from any altemative source," necessary to overcome this privilege (Civil Rights Law $ 79-h[c])," according to Judge Delconte's ruling. "Accordingly, the motion to quash must be granted, and the subpoena declared void."
Furthermore, Judge Delconte ruled that testimony by Keeler would be irrelevant to the damages inquiry.
"And any testimony lrom Keeler would be "utterly irrelevant to any proper inquiry" on the issue ofthe damages suffered by... - the only remaining issue to be tried by the jury here (Kapon v Koch,23 NY3d 32, 38 )."
It was also ruled by Judge Delconte, that Gordon's subpoena which demanded all materials relating to him, including hundreds of hours of radio broadcasts, was unduly burdensome.
"In addition, to extent that it seeks the production ol documents, the subpoena is delective on its face as the material demanded - "a complete copy of any and all documents in your possession in connection with the defamation action that is the subject of this suit" - is overbroad and unduly burdensome." Delconte's decision
Judge Delconte reserved his decision on sanctions pursuant to 22 NYCRR 130-1.1 until after the completion of the damages hearing on June 7. Under that New York statute, "Awards Of Costs And Imposition Of Financial Sanctions For Frivolous Conduct In Civil Litigation" could be considered.