By Tim Redmond
But a big national chain can't hide its money forever -- and we've made some progress. Here's a press release we're sending out on our collection efforts:
BAY GUARDIAN SEIZES SF WEEKLY VEHICLES AS COLLECTION EFFORTS ADVANCE
The San Francisco Bay Guardian has taken new, aggressive steps toward collecting a $20 million judgment against The SF Weekly and New Times Media LLC, the parent company of 16 weekly alternative newspapers in major markets across the nation, including the Village Voice and LA Weekly.
Last week, the Guardian auctioned off two vehicles owned by the SF Weekly. The Guardian seized the vehicles in November.
The initial recovery efforts prove wrong the predictions of New Times executives that the Guardian would never collect a cent on its judgment.
The Guardian has also asserted liens against New Times' interests in each of its subsidiaries that operate newspapers. Further significant collection actions are expected to be initiated by the Guardian this week.
The Guardian sued SF Weekly and New Times in San Francisco Superior Court in 2004, charging that the big chain was pricing ads below cost in an effort to harm the smaller competitor. In 2008, a San Francisco jury awarded the Guardian more than $6 million, which Judge Marla Miller increased to more than $15 million. With attorney’s fees and interest, the judgment has since grown to approximately $20 million.
Under California law, post-judgment interest is 10%, so the judgment is now growing at more than $4,000 per day.
New Times and SF Weekly may also be liable for the Guardian's costs and attorneys fees for its collection efforts.
New Times -- now part of the Village Voice Media chain -- is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.
The company has not posted a bond, which would postpone the Bay Guardian's collection of its judgment until the appeal of the case is resolved. But its attorneys have insisted that the chain’s assets are protected from any collection efforts.