Legal Dispute Over Control of the Santa Barbara Independent Continues

Santa Barbara Independent publisher and majority shareholder Randy Campbell has filed a notice of appeal in his ongoing legal dispute with editor-in-chief and minority shareholder Marianne Partridge.

In August, a county judge ordered Campbell to sell his 51 percent stake of the paper to Partridge:

The slowly unfolding legal drama — a fairly basic contract dispute — is centered on a 2009 proposal from Southland Publishing to buy the paper, and whether that proposal, and Campbell’s subsequent interest, was enough to trigger a right of first refusal in the company’s buy-sell agreement.

Both Partridge and Campbell agree that the proposal from Southland — which prints The Independent each week and owns several newspapers — to buy all the shares of the paper for $2.7 million was not a binding offer. (The document from Southland also establishes as much.) Partridge, however, is arguing that a binding offer is not needed to commence a process whereby she could buy Campbell out of his shares. Both Partridge and Campbell, who have consistently butted heads for years, have alleged the other was attempting to use the situation to remove the other from ownership of the company.

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