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Weeklies again arguing their cases online

The SF Weekly’s latest post on its ongoing predatory pricing lawsuit with the Bay Guardian seemed like old time. It was just two years ago that the two weeklies were filing detailed, lengthy reports on their latest legal maneuvers against one another. After the Guardian won at trial and now is attempting to collect its $21 million judgment, the online “stories” about this legal saga have trailed off.

Now Andy Van De Voorde of the SF Weekly’s home office in Phoenix has a report on his company’s appeals brief. He makes these points:

• The $21 million award is more than twice the amount the company that operated the Cosco Busan had to pay after spilling tons of toxic bunker fuel into the Bay.

• The size of the judgment “far exceeds the net assets of the SF Weekly and its parent company, New Times Media.

• That if the SF Weekly case were stand, “would likely have a chilling effect on commerce in California,
particularly in the publishing and Web start-up industries, where
companies often lose money during their initial years of operation.”

The SF Weekly also makes a novel argument about lower prices. The Guardian, and countless plaintiffs before it, have successfully argued that they were damaged when a competitor seeking a monopoly position lowered prices below the cost of production to drive rivals out of business. It’s the Walmart argument. The store rolls into a small town and charges less than the retailers on Main Street. Those stores close and then Walmart raises its prices to recoup its earlier losses.

The SF Weekly is arguing that because anti-trust laws are about protecting consumers instead of business interests, “lower prices should always be encouraged, unless a plaintiff can prove
that the defendant could reasonably expect to recoup its losses by
ultimately charging monopoly prices.”

One thing is for sure. The Guardian will soon be posting its response to this brief.

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