The long-awaited civil trial involving former KYW CBS 3 news anchor Alycia Lane can finally move forward after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the litigation against Lane’s former co-anchor Larry Mendte can be played out in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas.
Just as jury selection was getting under way in the case in the spring, attorneys for the local television station, which is also named as a defendant in the suit, filed a motion asking that venue be transferred to New York because of a supposed clause in Lane’s contract that stipulated that cases against the television network should be heard in New York courts, according to news accounts.
Attorneys involved with the lawsuit, which reads almost like a television drama itself, were awaiting the ruling from Pennsylvania’s high court since late May, when the justices stayed the case pending their ruling.
That ruling, which was issued on Oct. 27, paves the way for the trial to move forward, although no specific date appears to have been set yet.
The 127-page libel, slander and misrepresentation lawsuit, which was filed on Sept. 23, 2008, accuses Mendte, Lane’s former co-anchor at the television station, of hacking into her work email account and leaking information to local media.
Some of the emails that were hacked into supposedly contained private correspondence between Lane and her attorneys.
Mendte accepted responsibility for his crime, pleading guilty in November 2008 in federal court in Philadelphia, and subsequently serving six months of house arrest and probation. Lane’s civil action was filed shortly thereafter.
Both Lane and Mendte, a popular news team duo who helped boost ratings for then-lagging CBS 3, were ultimately fired from their high-paying anchor positions in early 2008.
That summer, after pleading guilty to the felony hacking charges, Mendte took to the airwaves, publicly confessing to his misdeeds during a news conference in which he also claimed to have had a flirtatious and improper relationship with his former co-anchor.
Mendte, who is married to former WTXF Fox 29 news anchor Dawn Stensland, said the relationship between Lane and himself had soured after his wife learned of the supposed flirtations.
Things continued to go downhill from there, with the two eventually being released from their jobs.
Lane’s attorneys had threatened to file suit if Mendte publicly stated that the two had had an affair, according to local media reports. They apparently made good on that promise, with lawyers Paul Rosen and Andrew J. DeFalco, of the firm Spector, Gadon & Rosen, filing the complaint soon after Mendte’s news conference.
The lawsuit also names as defendants the Philadelphia Daily News and gossip columnist Dan Gross for their roles in publishing information relating to the supposed improper relationship between the two onetime colleagues.
Rosen did not return a phone call from the Pennsylvania Record on Wednesday seeking comment.