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Posted 29 Sep 2001   For week ended September 28, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 28Sep01

By Kent Larsen

Deseret News Accused of Forum Shopping in Tribune Lawsuit

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- One day after the Utah Supreme Court ruled that a Deseret News lawsuit against the Salt Lake Tribune Publishing Company must be heard in Salt Lake County, the News asked a Davis County Judged to dismiss the case, saying that the News would now file its claim in U.S. Federal Court. The move led the Tribune Publishing Company, which has a contract to manage the newspaper, to accuse the News of 'forum shopping' in its effort to move to morning publication and establish its right to veto any sale of the Tribune.

The moves are part of the continuing war between the two newspapers, which are locked together under a 1950s-era joint operating agreement under which the two newspapers share printing, distribution and advertising sales functions, but not their editorial offices. Under the agreement, the larger paper, the Salt Lake Tribune, has control over the joint functions, and the News claims that the Tribune has used this control to prevent it from switching from afternoon publication to morning publication.

But, now that the lawsuit will be heard in Salt Lake County, the Deseret News wants to move it to Federal court. "We filed in Davis County because we believed it offered the most neutral jury pool." said Deseret News publisher and president Jim Wall. "At the same time, we asked the federal court to let all issues involving the Deseret News be heard in state court," Deseret News publisher and president Jim Wall said. "The federal court has now decided that the Deseret News must be a party in the federal case and the Utah Supreme Court has held that we can't stay in Davis County. In light of these developments, it makes sense to have the issues heard in one place in federal court," Wall said.

The newspapers' long disputes exploded into public last Fall when the Tribune's owner, AT&T, agreed to sell the newspaper to Denver-based MediaNews Group, the publisher of the Denver Post and many small newspapers around the U.S. The Tribune then sued MediaNews and AT&T, trying to overturn the sale and validate an agreement that gave the Publishing company, the newspaper's current manager, an option to purchase the newspaper in June of 2002.

The publishing company sold the Tribune to Telecommunications, Inc., in 1997, about the same time that the Deseret News wanted to move to morning publication, as part of a tax-favored move to rid the Tribune of cable systems it owned. Part of the agreement included an arrangement that named the Salt Lake Tribune Publishing Company manager of the newspaper and gave the company an option to re-purchase the Tribune. But Telecommunications later merged into AT&T, which sold the newspaper to Denver-based MediaNews Group earlier this year.

While the Tribune's lawsuit against MediaNews and AT&T originally involved the Deseret News, it removed itself from the lawsuit, agreeing to "not take any action" to prevent MediaNews from following a judge's orders if it weren't named in the lawsuit. But subsequently, the Tribune added issues to its lawsuit against MediaNews and AT&T that are important to the News, leading it to file the lawsuit in Davis County. The current Deseret News move makes it possible that the two lawsuits will eventually be combined.


D-News to Pursue Tribune Suit in Federal Court
Salt Lake Tribune 28Sep01 B3
By Michael Vigh

D-News Suit Ordered to S.L. County
Salt Lake Tribune 27Sep01 B3
By Elizabeth Neff: Salt Lake Tribune

Newspaper suit is likely moving to fed court
Deseret News 27Sep01 B3
By Linda Thomson: Deseret News staff writer

See also:

SLC Newspaper Battles Escalate to Utah Supreme Court

Deseret News Files Lawsuit Against Salt Lake Tribune Over Morning Distribution

Tribune Wins Round in Ownership Lawsuit

Tribune Co. Delt Setbacks in Sale Lawsuit

MediaNews Opposes Adding Deseret News to Tribune Lawsuit

After FTC Approves, Salt Lake Tribune Sale Completed


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