Leiberman Counter-Sues Sinclair

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The former Washington bureau chief for Sinclair Broadcasting’s centralized news operation, NewsCentral, has filed a countersuit against his former employer asserting he was unlawfully terminated.

Jon Leiberman, who was dismissed in October 2004 after he spoke out in the press against Sinclair’s plans to air a documentary featuring Swift Boat Veterans For Truth’s allegations against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), is seeking to reclaim his unpaid compensation and some fringe benefits.

Sinclair did not air the documentary on its 62 stations but included parts in a news special, Stolen Honor.

Sinclair has said Leiberman violated terms of his employment contract by disclosing proprietary information. But, in the latest suit, Leiberman’s attorneys allege that Leiberman’s comments, part of a Baltimore Sun article, did not contain any information that “was not already known to the general public” from media coverage, including articles in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

The broadcast group also contends that Leiberman violated his deal after leaving the company, when he went to work for a Baltimore radio station. Leiberman’s lawyers are refuting that as well.

In the latest court documents filed with a Circuit Court in Baltimore County, Leiberman is seeking $79,166 in unpaid compensation and an unspecified amount covering lost benefits, such as vacation time and pension funds.

The two sides have been legally sparring for more than a year. Leiberman had to repay the state about $1,000 in unemployment money after a report from Maryland Department of Labor concluded he was discharged for “speaking to the press/media without permission and sharing of propriety information outside the company.” Sinclair circulated the report to several media outlets.

For its part, Sinclair is seeking to recoup about $17,000 from Leiberman plus related costs “in excess of $25,000.”

Leiberman is now a producer for Fox’s America’s Most Wanted.

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