The corporate owner of the SF Weekly is vowing to make it hard for the Bay Guardian to collect the $15.6 million it was awarded by a San Francisco jury on Thursday.
The jury found that the Weekly, owned by the 16-paper Village Voice Media chain, sold ads at below cost for 12 years in an attempt to run the locally owned Guardian out of business, in violation of California’s predatory pricing law.
In a post trial commentary on its blog, the Weekly suggested jurors were swayed by their emotions as the Guardian portrayed itself as the local victim of a national chain.
“Village Voice Media vows that Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann will have a difficult time cashing his ticket,” the blog stated bluntly.
The Weekly’s blog hinted at some of the arguments it will use in its appeal, such as claiming the predatory pricing law is out of date.
The verdict upset Village Voice Media executive Mike Lacey, who was heard in the courtroom mumbling “shit” over and over again as the jury’s answers to 11 questions were read aloud, according to Guardian editor Tim Redmond’s blog. The Guardian ran the picture above (by Charles Russo) of Lacey leaving moments after the verdict.
Meanwhile, the Guardian plans to return to court to ask a judge to monitor sales by the SF Weekly to prevent the paper from selling ads at below cost in the future. If the judge agrees, the Weekly would have to raise its prices and it is possible that customers might shift their business to the Guardian.