We go after the Weekly's ad revenue

VVM's Mike Lacey flees SF after losing a big judgment

The Bay Guardian will be in court Thursday morning, Feb. 11, to ask a San Francisco judge to force SF Weekly to hand over half its advertising revenue as partial payment on a $21 million judgment.

The paper also filed a motion Feb. 9th asking Judge Marla Miller to add two of the corporations that make up SF Weekly’s parent company to the judgment.

The judgment came as the result of a Guardian lawsuit charging SF Weekly and the national chain that owns it with predatory pricing -- that is, selling ads below cost in an effort to harm the locally owned, independent competitor. A San Francisco jury awarded the Guardian $6.3 million, which Judge Marla Miller increased to $15.6 million. With attorneys fees and interest, the judgment is now worth more than $21 million.

But Village Voice Media, the SF Weekly’s owner, has refused to pay -- hiding in part behind a complex corporate structure (pdf).

The motion that will be heard Feb. 11 before Judge Paul Slavit marks the latest effort by the Guardian to collect some of the money. The paper has already seized two SF Weekly vehicles and the rent the company gets from subtenant.

The other motion, which will be heard March 12 in Judge Miller’s court, seeks to amend the May, 2008 judgment to include Village Voice Media LLC and Village Voice Media Holdings LLC.

VVM is arguing that that the Weekly has no unencumbered assets and that New Times Media LLC, which owned the weekly at the time we filed the suit, is just an empty holding company.

The Guardian’s lawyers argue that VVM and New Times are essentially the same company, with the same directors and same owners, and that VVM is a successor to New Times because of a 2006 merger.

There’s a good report on the issue in the Stranger.

The motion for assignment of ad revenue will be heard at 10:30 a.m. in San Francisco Superior Court, Dept. 610.