(AP) A federal judge has dismissed AT&T Corp. as a defendant in a lawsuit over ownership of The Salt Lake Tribune.
AT&T sold the Tribune to MediaNews Group Inc. of Denver in January 2001 for $200 million.
Salt Lake Tribune Publishing Co., which manages the day-to-day operations of the newspaper, sued to reverse the sale. It accused AT&T of conspiring with the Deseret News and MediaNews to deprive Tribune Publishing of its option to buy the Tribune next August.
The suit also asked the court to validate the managers’ option to buy the Tribune in August. MediaNews and the Deseret News oppose the Tribune Publishing buyout.
The Tribune managers had argued that they were about to complete a deal to buy the newspaper from AT&T in 2000, but AT&T deceived them by conducting secret negotiations with MediaNews.
In a ruling released late Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart agreed with AT&T that it should not be a defendant in the suit. He said AT&T did not sign the management and option agreements, and that the managers must pursue their claims against Kearns-Tribune, the company that holds the Tribune and other assets and is now owned by MediaNews.
He also said there was no evidence AT&T had a commitment to sell the Tribune to the managers or negotiated with them in bad faith.