A $21 Million judgment against the SF Weekly -- a local newspaper published in San Francisco, California -- would remain intact after the justices of the California Supreme Court voted to decline review of the case.
The suit, which was filed by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, alleged that SF Weekly was unlawfully selling ads below cost in order to harm its competitors in violation of California law.
SF Weekly, referring to the suit as "Looney", maintained that the SF Guardian can only point to 100 instances where customers had been sold ads below cost.
SF Weekly, a free alternative weekly newspaper, is no stranger to controversy. Doubting the "Armenian Genocide" editor David Downs wrote "If there was a genocide, then why is there so many left of you around to bitch?" According to Wikipedia, the SF Weekly openly encourages contrarianism and questioning of political dogma. (Photo: courtesy of SF Weekly)
Mounting a convoluted legal argument on behalf of the defendant SF Weekly, Kerr & Wagstaffe attorneys (James Wagstaffe, Rod Kerr and Ivo Labar) attempted to dispose of the action by unsuccessfully moving for summary judgment multiple times.
According to SF Weekly, attorney Ivo Labar found some of the claims by SF Guardian to be somewhat "amusing" and "bizarre". "So much for discounts off the sticker prices of automobiles, or Senior Citizens' Night at Luby's," Kerr & Wagstaffe argued in the moving papers.
Additionally, during oral arguments superior court judge Richard A. Kramer rebuked Mr. Wagstaffe's argument that SF Weekly's First Amendment rights were at stake. "I don't buy it," Judge Kramer stated setting the case for trial whereupon a jury awarded the SF Guardian $16 Million in damages.
Post trial motions were otherwise rejected wholesale.
According to the San Francisco Bay Guardian "newspapers have always had to follow basic business regulations – even when they might cost money that could have gone to editorial staffing. No newspaper has ever seriously tried to claim that labor laws, or environmental laws, or workplace-safety laws, or tax laws were a First Amendment violation."