No New Trial In ‘Bay Guardian’ Vs. ‘SF Weekly’

By: E&P Staff

SF Weekly and its parent Village Voice Media (VVM) are moving to appeal a California judge’s rejection of their motion for a new trial in the “predatory pricing” case brought against them by the rival alternative weekly, San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Judge Marla Miller on July 18 rejected the motion to overturn a jury’s award of $16 million on the Bay Guardian’s allegation that VVM subsidized big losses by the SF Weekly in an illegal attempt to put its competitor out of business. The Bay Guardian sued under the California Unfair Practices Act that prohibits pricing products or services below cost in an attempt to drive someone out of business.

Miller ruled that a jury would not have decided the case differently given the evidence, and that she had not made reversible errors during the trial.

In a statement on SF Weekly’s Web site, VVM CEO Jim Larkin vowed to appeal Miller’s ruling “immediately.”

“Bruce Brugmann’s lawsuit is economic terrorism,” Larkin said, referring to the Bay Guardian owner. “As she has throughout the trial, Judge Miller, in the end, ignored case law, precedent, and a judge’s prior rulings on this very lawsuit, not to mention the law of the land.

“Incredibly, we were found liable under Judge Miller’s direction for keeping SF Weekly alive during the very difficult years after the dot-com bust and 9/11. Our multi-million dollar investment to cover losses in the San Francisco paper in this difficult economic environment was cited by the judge and Bay Guardian to the jury as de facto proof of our intent to injure the Bay Guardian.”

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