Dan Rather's suit is a serious effort. It is a detailed, narrative, advocacy pleading. It is not just a shot over CBS's bow. It is interesting and in my view, well written.
Rather's attorneys are established and respected. The New York Office of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal (Scott Turow's firm, and a major national firm). The Complaint is signed by a senior partner, Martin R. Gold, who is a distinguished litigator with 47 years of experience, a mid-level partner, Edward J. Reich who has practiced since 1991, and a junior associate, Rebecca Hughes Parker a Harvard Columbia lawyer who has been out of law school for three years. The case appears to me to be appropriately staffed for a long battle, difficult battle along the lines of Westmoreland v. CBS.
I would take this matter seriously were I CBS's General Counsel. I believe eventually, all of the Defendants should have separate counsel. That will be expensive.
Aggregate attorneys fees and expenses for all parties in this case could easily exceed $10 Million. This not a WAG, but is based on my experience litigating this kind of case in New York City.
At the turn of this century (that sounds funny, doesn't it?), I had a case there somewhat less complex than this one but without the emotional baggage. Our firm had run up $1.0mm worth of time and $.5mm expenses by the time it settled. We staffed with two lawyers, not three. As part of the excellent settlement, we recovered all of our fees and expenses. That is partially because, I am confident, our opponent, (defended by a national firm comparable to Sonnenschein which staffed with three attorneys, not two) spent nearly twice what we spent. Another factor was that their lawyers' rates were at NYC prices which are significantly higher than those in Atlanta.
It would be interesting to know whether Sonnenschein has it on a contingent fee or a modified contingent fee based on result. That would tell us more about their view of the chances of successs than the pleadings.