SF Weekly loses a big one
It's no news to most of you that the Guardian has sued the SF Weekly and its parent company for predatory pricing. We're arguing that the Weekly, owned by Village Voice Media (which used to be New Times), has been selling ads below cost for the purpose of injuring the locally owned competitor.
Back in July, SF Weekly managing editor Will Harper wrote a long, rather nasty story that sought to portray the suit as groundless. He called the suit "light on witnesses and evidence," quoted his boss, Mike Lacey, at length, and laid out, in detail, the Weekly's motion for summary judgment -- in essence, a motion to dismiss the suit because of a lack of evidence.
Well: this Wednesday and Thursday, Judge Richard Kramer heard arguments on that motion (actually, three different motions). One of the things that the Weekly's lawyers argued was that the VVM managers couldn't possibly have intended to harm the Guardian; after all, the lawyers argued, VVM CEO Jim Larkin denied any such plan.
That's right: The lawyers said their client couldn't have done anything wrong, because he (imagine this) said he didn't do it.
Shortly before noon yeterday, Judge Kramer denied all three motions. In essence, the judge said, just saying you didn't do it won't fly; there's plenty of evidence to take this case to trial, and a jury will have to decide who's telling the truth and what's really going on.
The folks at the SFW, of course, are spinning the ruling as just more evidence of our "looney lawsuit". That's their opinion, and they're welcome to it. But in this particular matter, the opinion that counts is the opinion of the Hon. Richard Kramer -- and he didn't see it the SF Weekly's way.
Trial is scheduled for early January.