Minny Drama Goes Maxi As 'Pi-Press' Sues 'Strib' Over Ridder

By: E&P Staff The St. Paul Pioneer Press today sued in-state rival Minneapolis Star Tribune demanding that Par Ridder, the latter's new publisher (after coming over from the Pi-Press), be barred from working for the paper for a year. He had just started last month.

The lawsuit claims that Ridder and two executives he has recruited from his old paper -- Jennifer Parratt and Kevin Desmond -- all violated non-compete agreements. It also seeks Parratt's and Desmond's removal for at least a year.

"The impact of this raid on the Pioneer Press has been, and will continue to be, both devastating and irreparable," said the lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court.

The Star Tribune reports tonight: "The lawsuit accuses Ridder and two executives he recruited from the Pioneer Press in recent weeks, of taking confidential information, including budgets, company profit and loss data, as well as advertiser lists and the accompanying revenue and rate information."

Chris Harte, chairman of the Star Tribune Co., said in a statement: "There are facts in dispute relative to the recent move of Par Ridder from the St. Paul Pioneer Press to the Star Tribune. We will address these matters point by point in our legal response to the complaint and look forward to a full resolution."

The St. Paul paper puts it this way: "The lawsuit claims Par Ridder was planning his jump to the competing newspaper almost six months before his departure and took with him computer files loaded with sensitive data about Pioneer Press advertisers, company budgets and business plans. Ridder joined the Star Tribune on March 5.

"The lawsuit accuses the 38-year-old publisher and other defendants of fraud, civil theft and conspiracy, detailing a tawdry end to the Ridder family's decades of owning and managing the Pioneer Press.

"The lawsuit also accuses Avista Capital Partners, the Star Tribune's owner, of breach of contract and says the company played a role in various misdeeds....

"The lawsuit also asks that the computer data the three took with them not be used, and that a computer expert be allowed to inspect their computers and destroy files containing Pioneer Press data."


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