Sunday, September 19, 2021

Tavis Smiley’s Lawsuit Against PBS is A Big FAIL So Far

Photo Credit: Twitter.com

*It appears things aren’t going too well for Tavis Smiley in his bid to get PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) to hand over internal documents dating back decades as part of his lawsuit Against the network. Not only has been unsuccessful, he’s had two of his claims have been dismissed.

The bottom line is that Smiley won’t be able to force PBS to turn over documents related to every romantic relationship a network supervisor has had with a subordinate since the early aughts, a judge has ruled.

It was back in February that Smiley launched his lawsuit against PBS after it dropped his show amid sexual misconduct allegations. Then in March, the network did a switcheroo and filed a countersuit that claimed Smiley violated the morals clause in his contract and sought to reclaim nearly $2 million it had paid him.

A D.C. judge on Thursday denied Smiley’s request for a motion to compel PBS to hand over certain documents as part of a discovery request the network challenged as overbroad.

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tavis smiley
Radio-TV personality Tavis Smiley 

Here’s MORE from The Hollywood Reporter:

In its opposition, PBS argued that he was requesting documents that dated back more than a decade and weren’t relevant to the contract issues at hand, including the network’s sexual harassment policies since 2000 and any records of PBS managers having a relationship with a subordinate and the resulting disciplinary actions, if there were any.

Judge Anthony Epstein found PBS responded reasonably to Smiley’s discovery requests.

“TSM is not entitled to conduct a fishing expedition concerning all romantic or personal relationships between superiors and subordinates within PBS or within companies with which PBS did business,” writes Epstein. “However, if TSM has information that PBS tolerated behavior inside PBS or within one or more of its partners that is comparable to the behavior in which Mr. Smiley is alleged to have engaged, or if other discovery in this case shows that PBS compared Mr. Smiley’s conduct with conduct of other people with whom it did business, targeted discovery may be appropriate.”

Smiley also sought information related to PBS’ decision to cancel his show. He contends the sexual misconduct allegations were a smokescreen and claims the network is “racially hostile.” PBS disputes the claim but argues that it had the contractual right to cancel the show for any reason, including a racially discriminatory one, and therefore documents concerning its motives are irrelevant. Epstein isn’t entirely convinced.

“The Court is not inclined to decide in the abstract, and in the discovery context, whether this principle applies if PBS terminated its distribution agreement for racially discriminatory reasons,” writes Epstein. “TSM does not provide any specific information supporting its allegation that PBS would not have terminated the distribution arrangement if he were not African-American, but the Court is unwilling to make an open-ended ruling that a contractual provision or the First Amendment gives media companies a license to engage in discrimination based on race.”

You can get the rest of this story at The Hollywood Reporter.

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