• James Yamasaki

Well, long story short, it all ended up at the California Supreme Court, where the owners of SF Weekly (the same people who own the Seattle Weekly, the LA Weekly, and the Village Voice) were asking the justices to throw out a roughly $22 million judgment that SF Weekly has been ordered to pay its San Francisco rival, the independently-owned Bay Guardian.

The reason for that $22 million judgment? In 2008, a San Francisco jury found that the SF Weekly and its parent company had engaged in illegal "predatory pricing" by selling ads below cost in an effort to harm the Bay Guardian. In September of this year, the California Court of Appeals declined to overturn that jury's verdict, and today the California Supreme Court denied a petition by SF Weekly's owners that sought high court review of the case.

I've requested comment on today's California Supreme Court decision from both parties, but so far neither has responded. I'll update when they do.

In the meantime, I interpret today's events as a sign that SF Weekly and its owners are either at or near the end of their options for trying to overturn that huge 2008 judgment against them. (A judgment that collects interest every day that SF Weekly and its owners decline to pay it, as they have ever since it was awarded.)

As for the remaining options that SF Weekly and its owners have for frustrating the Bay Guardian's efforts to collect and/or seize assets in order to get at that $22 million (and counting)? Barring an immediate settlement—hints of which have swirled for some time—I'm not so sure we're at, or even near, the end of that whole fight.

UPDATE: Tim Redmond, executive editor of the Bay Guardian, believes that SF Weekly and its owners have now run out of legal road. “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.

What about the efforts by the Bay Guardian to collect its $22 million? “Our collections efforts will have to continue," Redmond said. "It doesn’t mean that they’re going to turn around and pay us tomorrow, but there’s nothing else that they can wait for. There’s no more Hail Mary.”

Any settlement talks? “There have been," Redmond told me. "But I can’t comment on that.”