FOX ATTORNEYS SEEK THREE
WEEKS TO DEPOSE PLAINTIFFS
By STEVE WILSON
Tampa (September 13, 1998)--Attorney Patricia Anderson has told The St. Petersburg Times that she intends to spend two to three weeks taking the depositions of former Fox investigative reporters Steve Wilson and Jane Akre.
The two veteran journalists, a husband-wife reporting team which includes this reporter, have filed suit under Florida's whistleblower protection law claiming they were fired by Fox-owned WTVT for refusing to broadcast news reports they knew and documented to be false or misleading. A controversial dairy hormone known as BGH was at the heart of those reports.
"We've already provided the defendants with thousands of pages of documents which support our claim and we're still gathering more of what they've requested," said plaintiff Jane Akre. "We've set aside and agreed to answer questions for a full week which is plenty of time for us to tell everything we know about this case.
"It seems to me that anything beyond a full week would be more in the realm of harassment than honest fact-finding," Akre said, adding that her attorneys will oppose any such tactic.
Fox has also notified it intends to videotape its depositions of both Plaintiff's, a practice long allowed by the rules in Florida courts. Where the witness is expected to be available for further questioning at trial, some legal observers say the presence of a camera at a deposition is primarily designed to intimidate the deponent.
Former Fox news director Daniel Webster's testimony was videotaped in San Francisco in early June at the request of the plaintiffs. Webster, who is now news director at CBS-owned KPIX-TV in California, is not required to return to Florida for trial but the videotape of his testimony can be shown to the jury.