Calif. Supreme Court Denies SF Weekly Appeal Request

In a six to one decision, the California Supreme Court has denied SF Weekly‘s petition to review the $22 million judgment against it in the nearly three-year-old predatory pricing lawsuit brought by the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Associate Justice Joyce Kennard was the lone dissenting opinion in the decision, which was announced this afternoon.

In an email to AAN, the Bay Guardian‘s Tim Redmond called the decision, “a huge victory not only for us but for all small locally owned independent businesses in the state.”

A San Francisco jury initially ruled against SF Weekly in March 2008, awarding $6.3 million in damages to the Bay Guardian after determining that SF Weekly and its parent company, then called New Times Media, conspired to sell ads below cost with the intent of harming the Guardian. Two months later, a judge trebled the damages to $15.9 million, an amount that has since grown to an estimated $22 million as the case has gone through the appeal process.

After an appellate court upheld the jury damages in August, reports surfaced that the two parties had been engaging in back-channel settlement negotiations. Meanwhile, SF Weekly continued its appeal, petitioning the state Supreme Court in September after the appellate court declined to rehear the case.

Today’s decision appears to exhaust SF Weekly‘s appeal options at the state level. Village Voice Media informs us that a statement will be forthcoming.

Updated 5:14 PM PST: The Stranger‘s Eli Sanders spoke with Redmond, who said the following:

“Our attorneys have told me that their legal options are done,” Redmond said in a phone interview. “The case is effectively over. They have lost. They’ve exhausted all their appellate options at this point.”

It’s possible, Redmond conceded, that SF Weekly and its owners could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But he said he didn’t think there were any federal issues in the case for them to grab on to.

Redmond confirmed to Sanders that there have been settlement talks, but that he’s unable to elaborate.

Updated Nov. 24: Village Voice Media’s response can be found here.

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