CBS Spurns Intern Lawsuit, Seeks Dismissal Of Class Action

EXCLUSIVE: Some of the names have changed, but the aims have not — and for CBS that means go hard. In a blunt, brisk and not really giving-an-inch response to the class-action-seeking complaint former CBS Radio intern Camille Demere first filed on January 26, the company said today it wants the whole thing tossed out.

“Defendants respectfully request that this Court: (a) dismiss the Complaint in its entirety, with prejudice; (b) deny each and every request for relief set forth in the Complaint; (c) award Defendants their reasonable attorneys’ fees and legal expenses; (d) award Defendants their costs and disbursements incurred in defense of this action; and (e) award Defendants any other relief that the Court deems just and proper,” said CBS Radio Inc. and CBS Radio East Inc. in their joint answer Tuesday (read it here) to Demere and her attorneys’ amended complaint of February 27 (read it here).

Basically, other than acknowledging that CBS Radio Inc. and CBS Radio East are corporations set up under the laws of Delaware and based at W. 52nd St in NYC, today’s response is a long litany of denials of the various allegations the complaint makes about Demere’s time as intern at CBS Radio from December 2009 to August 2010. Demere said in her original complaint against CBS Corporation and in her amended one against the radio units that the company broke NY labor laws by having “a policy and practice of wrongfully classifying the Named Plaintiff and other similarly situated employees as exempt from minimum wages” starting in January 2009 and continuing to this day. Demere also claimed that “CBS required the Named Plaintiff and members of the putative class to perform work on its behalf and for its benefit for which they were not compensated.”

Hitting back with the assertion that all this is irrelevant because the claims are barred by statute of limitations requirements among other objections, CBS adds that the “purported class members’ claims are barred, in whole or in part, because they were not or are not employees and were exempt and/or not covered by minimum wage, overtime, and/or other provisions of the applicable law.” Giving their clients some deft cover, CBS’ lawyers also say that “if Defendants are found to have failed to compensate Plaintiff and/or putative class members as alleged in the Complaint, which Defendants deny, Defendants acted at all times on the basis of a good faith and reasonable belief that their actions were in compliance and conformity with all applicable federal and state laws and/or written administrative regulations, orders, rulings, guidance and/or interpretations, and therefore Defendants’ actions were not willful or reckless or in reckless disregard of applicable law” — i.e., if we did do the thing we say we never did, it wasn’t our fault, sorry.

That might not fly so high with Demere’s attorneys of Virginia & Ambinder and Leeds Brown Law P.C., who are very experienced in these intern lawsuits. The NYC firm and the Carle Place-based Leeds Brown Law were the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the interns lawsuit that Viacom settled for $7.2 million this month — a deal that sees a potential $900,000 payout for the lawyers. Virginia & Ambinder also are handling the class action that former The Wendy Williams Show intern Anthony Tart filed on October 3 last year against Lionsgate and producers Debmar-Mercury. The firm is no fave of CBS. Virginia & Ambinder were the lawyers in the very short-lived David Letterman intern action against the company and the late-night host’s Worldwide Pants last year.

So, with a settlement likely not in the cards right now, the next step is to see what NY Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla does with all this. A preliminary conference is set for April 8.

Elise Bloom and Michelle Annese of NYC’s Proskauer Rose LLP represent the CBS Radio units

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