Former WPEC-Channel 12 reporter Jonathan Beaton, who fought Sinclair’s efforts to clawback his $1,500 signing bonus and another $4,200 for leaving the station with one month left on his contract, declined comment. Aventura attorney Ravi Batta, who represented the nearly $3 billion Maryland-based broadcasting company, didn’t return a phone call.
The lawsuit was filed in Orlando, where Beaton moved after leaving Channel 12 to launch a public relations firm. Court records show the suit was dismissed by Sinclair last week.
It is the second time this year Sinclair has had a change of heart about pursuing former Channel 12 reporters who found new jobs before their contracts were up. In May, it dropped a similar lawsuit against former reporter Lauren Hills, who now works at FPL. In the lawsuit, it claimed Hills owed the station $17,500 because she left with 11 months remaining on her $46,500-a-year contract.
News of the lawsuits came as Sinclair was under fire for forcing anchors at its 193 stations to read identical statements decrying “fake news.” The statement, part of what Sinclair calls “must reads” and critics deride as propaganda, was widely blasted as pandering to the Trump administration.
Contracts that force anchors, reporters and producers to pay penalties if they leave their jobs are common, broadcasting experts said. However, they said, enforcement is rare.