Former Philadelphia Newscaster Files Lawsuit against Station
By: Gerri L. Elder
Former newscaster Alycia Lane has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the station that fired her, claiming that her former employer and its general manager "intentionally and maliciously" damaged her reputation.
Lane's personal injury claim was filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. In the suit, Lane alleges that KYW-TV management deliberately injected her personal life into the news in order to get free publicity for the station. The Associated Press reported that Lane's lawsuit also alleges that the station's management had a pattern of "deep-seated gender-discriminatory animus" towards female employees.
Lane also alleges that the station didn't respond to complaints that her private email had been viewed and that co-anchor Larry Mendte was jealous of Lane's higher salary and her popularity. She accuses Mendte of snooping in her email and leaking pictures of her wearing a bikini to the press. Lane had apparently sent the photos to another news anchor at NFL Network. Mendte has since been fired by KYW-TV and is the subject of an FBI investigation; his home computer has also been seized.
On December 16th of last year, Lane was arrested in New York at around 2 a.m. after allegedly attacking a police officer. The police report of the incident said that Lane shoved a video camera into an officer's face as he attempted to escort an intoxicated person to a waiting taxi. When another officer intervened in the situation, Lane reportedly cursed at her and hit her in the face causing injuries. Lane denied assaulting the officer and a judge agreed to dismiss reduced charges against her as long as she keeps her nose clean for six months.
Also in her personal injury lawsuit, Lane alleges that the station told her to interview television psychologist Phil McGraw in 2004 and instructed her to talk about some of her past relationships with him. She says that she did this with the understanding that inappropriate personal parts of the interview would be cut, but when the piece aired,it included footage of her crying on camera about her divorce. Lane says that she did not want to appear on Dr. Phil's show a second time, but was forced into the appearance by the station.
Lane says that after the Dr. Phil ordeal, the station realized that having her personal life as part of the news would attract more viewers and as a result, would increase the station's revenue. She says that the decisions and demands by the station's management led to her being branded in the press as an attention seeker and someone who wanted to be news, rather than simply report the news.
KYW-TV fired Lane in January. Lawyers for the station have asked that Lane's personal injury lawsuit be dismissed and moved to the United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania because they say that Lane's personal injury lawyers filed the lawsuit in an improper venue. According to a portion of Lane's employment contract with the station, any disputes over her employment would be handled in the New York court system. By moving the lawsuit to federal court the parties, who are in two different states, will have an easier time obtaining discovery or evidence across state lines.