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So Sue Me…

Founders of VegNews Magazine Embroiled in Nasty Legal Battle

San Francisco-based journalist Laura Hooper Beck is night editor for jezebel.com, community manager for vegweb.com, a contributor to VegNews magazine and founder of the blog Vegansaurus! It is those last two strands that have come together unusually this morning in the form of a post on Vegansaurus! titled “Domestic Drama Sends Owners of Vegan Magazine to Court.”

The headline is in reference to Joe Connelly and Colleen Holland, the couple that founded VegNews magazine in 2000 and are now embroiled in a very ugly legal battle. From Beck’s excellent summary of legal briefs filed back and forth in August of 2012 and February of this year, it appears that Connelly is wrongfully trying to claim that the publication is his alone. Or, as Beck puts it, “Something stinks, and for once, it’s not home-brewed kombucha:”

A cross-complaint filed by Colleen on February 7 alleges that she and Joe are now — and have always been — equal partners in the business… In documents and declarations obtained through the Superior Court of California, several close friends, consultants, and advisors who have been present since the inception of VegNews, say they believe Colleen is telling the truth.

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Yahoo Readers Ridicule Disneyland ‘Racist’ White Rabbit Complaint

Wading through the full string of reader comments to this particular Yahoo! News item would likely take almost as long as a visit to Disneyland. At press time, the tally for “Black Family Claims Disney’s White Rabbit Character Refused to Touch Their Kids” has passed 20,000 published reactions and is still climbing rapidly.

The Lookout blogger Claudine Zap picked up on FOX San Diego and CBSLA reports and ka-boom; her account of Jason and Amelia Black‘s complaint over allegedly “racist” treatment directed at their kids last August by the person operating the Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit costume is a most-popular read and comments magnet. The family wants the resort to publicly apologize and fire the actor who played the Rabbit. Many readers meanwhile are ridiculing the allegations:

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Anita Busch vs. Michael Ovitz Business Still Lingering

In the spring of 2008, former CAA kingpin Michael Ovitz answered an odd-sounding question in an LA courtroom. It was during the trial of now incarcerated former PI Anthony Pellicano and went like this with defense attorney Chad Hummel, who was representing an LAPD sergeant:

Hummel: Did you ever hire Mr. Pellicano to put a fish on Anita Busch’s car?
Ovitz: Absolutely not.

Five years later, despite that denial, Busch and Ovitz are still legally entangled in a civil lawsuit. Per a THR Esq. update by Eriq Gardner, Ovitz is asking for “sanctions against Busch, summary judgment in the lawsuit on the basis that her claims are time-barred and the right to learn through discovery what else Busch was working on at the time in question.”

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Los Angeles Times Wins Dispute with Photographer

After an 18-month dispute with photographer David Strick, the Los Angeles Times was awarded $266,000 by an arbitrator  according to court documents obtained by The Wrap:

The case was decided in June, when retired judge Peter D. Lichtman, the arbitrator in the matter, dismissed Strick’s claims.

“Judge Lichtman properly found that the Times was entitled to recover the substantial cost it incurred in defending against Mr. Strick’s meritless lawsuit, and recognized that the conduct of Mr. Strick’s counsel contributed to the high cost of this litigation,” Kelli Sager, who represented the paper in the matter, told TheWrap in a statement. Read more

OC Weekly Sued for $75 Million by Former Congressional Candidate

OC Weekly journalist Matt Coker has been named in a $75 million libel lawsuit against the paper by former Orange County congressional candidate Delecia Ann Holt. Holt, incidentally, is serving an 80-month prison sentence on a barrage of felony charges.

From the Weekly:

Holt, a self-styled “Republican with a heart” who is presently an inmate of the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, claims in a handwritten complaint that a series of 2009/2010 Coker news articles about her on the Weekly’s Navel Gazing blog, “defamed, libeled, invaded plaintiff’s privacy, caused the plaintiff emotional distress and physical distress . . . as well as put the physical well being and life of the plaintiff, her child and her other family members in danger of retaliation by other people . . .”

Though her lawsuit does not detail any alleged falsehoods, Holt also accused Coker and the Weekly of being negligent and sadistic because they published “falsehoods” that prompted commenters to leave “malicious and aggressive” responses attached to the reports.

The Weekly‘s lawyer Steve Suskin doesn’t think much of her suit, telling the paper, “Raw indignation is a poor substitute for actual merit in defamation litigation.”

San Diego Freelancer in the Middle of First Amendment Fight

Earlier this year, 48-year-old videographer for-hire James Charles Playford served a couple of days in San Diego jail after being found guilty of obstructing a peace officer. He essentially refused to identify himself to a sheriff’s deputy at a news scene and a minor altercation ensued.

Now, his employer – Connecticut based American News and Information Services Inc. – is tackling on his behalf the broader issue of San Diego press credentials. Per a report in the North County Times, the company has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that ID cards issued to news media by the San Diego Police Department violate the First Amendment and that privately issued credentials should be considered equally valid. Playford’s SDPD pass was rescinded some time ago when a restraining order was filed against him:

To qualify for SDPD credentials, a member of the media must demonstrate a need to regularly cross police or fire lines and must pass a criminal background check, said Detective Gary Hassen, a spokesman for the San Diego Police Department who is in charge of issuing the credential.

Additionally, the applicant’s journalistic outlet must have been in existence for at least six months. He said the agency has issued credentials to bloggers, most notably those who work for Patch.

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TV Director Makes an Offer to Kim Dotcom

Although the topic of video piracy is no laughing matter, we have to hand it to writer-director Bruce Leddy. His response to Kim Dotcom’s July 17 open letter in The Hollywood Reporter still managed to find the funny.

Leddy writes that he is more than happy to take up Dotcom on his recent conciliatory offer, with one major proviso:

I’m tired of being a chump and writing and directing stuff for a decent wage when I could just as easily “share” other people’s stuff on the Internet and make huge money off it. So I’ve decided to start selling all your property on eBay, beginning with your pile of luxury cars.

That Mercedes Brabus SV12 alone will easily pay for my kids’ college tuitions. I mean, sure, they don’t technically belong to me. But if I can find a country where they don’t really have rules about that kind of thing yet, I’m going to be living large! Probably change my name to Bruce Web$tarr. Extra “r” for extra RICH! You like it?

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Tribune Company to Finally Emerge From Bankruptcy

After more than three years, U.S. Bankruptcy judge Kevin Carey has officially signed off on a plan for Tribune Company to emerge from bankruptcy. According to the Chicago Tribune, the media company will soon be in the hands of a conglomerate of senior investors, led by the LA-based investment fund Oaktree Capital Management.

Looks like we won’t have old Sam Zell to pick on anymore…Or won’t we? Apparently, the Tribune Co. legal fireworks aren’t over yet.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Junior creditors led by New York investment fund Aurelius Capital Management have said they plan to appeal the decision issued in Delaware by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey. But few experts expect appeals to gain traction because of the careful way Carey fashioned his confirmation opinion.

Instead, junior creditors will likely shift their attention a federal district court in New York where they are suing 35,000 former Tribune Co. shareholders who cashed out in the company’s 2007 leveraged buyout, certain current and former Tribune Co. directors and officers as well as Sam Zell, the deal’s architect. The litigation could keep the controversy surrounding the litigation alive in the courts for years.

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Radar Online Has Today’s Scientology Bombshell

Radar Online assistant managing editor Jen Heger got her hands on a lawsuit filed against the Church of Scientology by 1991-2004 member Laura Ann DeCrescenzo. The most explosive accusation contained in the litigation is the plaintiff’s claim that she was forced, while working for the Church in California at age 17, to get an abortion.

Per Heger’s report:

“Defendants forced plaintiff to have an abortion by threatening plaintiff with losing her job, housing, and losing her husband if she did not have an abortion,” the documents allege. “Further, defendants threatened that upon losing her job, Plaintiff would owe defendants a ‘Freeloader Debt,’ which is a supposed debt that Plaintiff would owe Defendants for purported Scientology training and services.”

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Tom Cruise Exclusive Lands THR Reporter on Morning Shows

One measure of a true Hollywood scoop is when network morning shows subsequently come knocking. Such was the case this week with Matthew Belloni’s juicy THR Esq. sharing of a threatening letter sent by Tom Cruise’s attorney Bert Fields to National Enquirer parent co. American Media.

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