The paper would lose some ad volume to the Guardian, but would be able to retain the same percentage of editorial space to ad space and would be a profitable operation, Brunst's report to the investors said.
In other words, the top people at the chain knew they could make money by ending their below-cost sales - but they continued with the predatory practice. That, Alldredge said, created a pretty reasonable presumption that the chain was out to harm a competitor.
Kramer rejected all of the SF Weekly's claims. He said that the First Amendment didn't allow newspapers to engage in "impermissible anticompetitive" behavior. And the question of intent, he said, was a fact for a jury to determine - and "a denial of improper activity by itself is not enough" to dismiss this case.
New Times Executive Editor Mike Lacey and Executive Associate Editor Andy Van De Voorde came from Phoenix to attend the hearing, and Van De Voorde wrote a lengthy piece that appeared on the Weekly's website calling the Guardian's three-year-old lawsuit "looney." The piece put the chain's spin on the hearing and laid out the Phoenix operators' opinions on the Guardian claim.
But in the end, only one opinion mattered, and that was the opinion of Judge Kramer -- who didn't buy one bit of the Weekly's argument.
Trial is set to begin early in January, 2008.
The Guardian is represented by Ralph Alldredge, E. Craig Moody and Rich Hill. Three VVM lawyers -- Ivo Labar and James Wagstaffe of the San Francisco firm Kerr and Wagstaffe and Don Bennett Moon of Phoenix -- were in the courtroom representing VVM.