MediaNews Group to Appeal Newsprint Case

By: Lucia Moses

MediaNews Group Inc. in Denver said it will appeal a $2.74-million court verdict in a newsprint contract case.

The dispute arose from MediaNews’ contract with the Smurfit Newsprint Corp. of California, which referred to a supposed average industry price that MediaNews contends doesn’t exist. MediaNews President Jody Lodovic contended that it should have paid the “big buyer” price commonly paid by large newspaper groups, which is $25-a-ton less than what Smurfit demanded.

Smurfit sued in November 2001 when MediaNews failed to pay for delivered newsprint, Smurfit lawyer Steven Gardner said.

The case went to trial March 3, and the jury issued a verdict April 18. “Unfortunately, it was a jury that I don’t think applied the facts of the laws, and we plan to appeal on the basis of that,” Lodovic said.

The newsprint came from the Pomona, Calif., recycled paper mill that was started in 1967 by Richard B. Scudder when he ran Garden State Paper Co. After changing hands a few times, it’s now owned by a unit of the Jefferson Smurfit Group in Ireland. In an interesting twist of fate, Scudder is now chairman of MediaNews Group Inc.

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