Former ‘Plain Dealer’ Orchestra Critic Drops All Claims but One in Lawsuit

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A longtime Cleveland Orchestra reviewer removed from his beat has dropped all claims but an age discrimination complaint against his newspaper to try to get a more favorable hearing, his attorney said yesterday.

Donald Rosenberg, 56, had been reassigned to cover other music groups after 16 years as the orchestra critic for The Plain Dealer, Ohio’s largest newspaper.

His removal from the beat caused a stir in the arts community, and the Music Critics Association of North America asked the newspaper to reinstate Rosenberg.

Steven Sindell, Rosenberg’s attorney, said dropping other federal claims, including defamation, against the newspaper and Editor Susan Goldberg allowed the lawsuit to return last week to state court. He expects a more balanced handling of employee-employer cases by an elected judge, as opposed to a lifetime federal bench appointee.

The suit seeks more than $50,000 in damages but doesn’t ask that Rosenberg be reinstated to the orchestra beat.

The original lawsuit claims against the leadership of the orchestra remain intact, including one that the orchestra lobbied to remove Rosenberg as The Plain Dealer’s reviewer because of critical coverage of the conductor, Franz Welser-Moest. The Musical Arts Association, which runs the orchestra, denied doing anything wrong.

Goldberg said she could not comment on the matter but has said the paper never allows complaints against a writer to dictate personnel decisions.

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