Former ‘San Diego U-T’ Editorial Cartoonist’s Lawsuit Gets Thrown Out

By: E&P Staff

Former San Diego Union-Tribune editorial cartoonist Steve Kelley, who alleged that newspaper officials intimidated his successor, Steve Breen, into dropping plans to develop a joint comic strip with him, has had his suit thrown out in court.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Jay M. Bloom has ruled that Kelley hadn’t “produced evidence of any unfair or unlawful business practice” by the U-T.

Kelley?s suit, filed in 2008, alleged that the newspaper’s executives “applied undue pressure and coercion” on two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Breen, who remains at the paper. The cartoonists had been working together on a newspaper comic strip titled “Dustin,” but Breen stepped away from the partnership.

Judge Bloom said in his ruling that even if the newspaper?s officials had made derisive comments about Kelley’s loyalty and team spirit, as the cartoonist alleged in the suit, such statements were merely opinion.

Kelley was fired from the newspaper in 2001 after his editors refused to run a cartoon poking fun at teens in low-riding jeans.

Breen replaced Kelley, who went on to become a cartoonist at the (New Orleans) Times- Picayune. Year later, they began developing the “Dustin” comic strip together. Breen had testified he stopped work on ?Dustin? for several reasons, including his workload at the paper.

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