Enterprise-Record lawsuit quietly dropped

A suit against the Enterprise-Record died a quiet death in an Oroville courtroom late last month. So quiet, in fact, that the newspaper acknowledged it in print only this week.

The lawsuit, filed July 25 by a Chico management company against the newspaper’s owner, Alameda Newspaper Groups, charged that the paper failed to distribute as many copies of its weekly freebie, the Mid Valley News, than it led its advertisers to believe. As a result, the suit charged, the Enterprise-Record—and in turn, its parent company—had unfairly over-collected advertising money.

In essence, the suit claimed the paper had overcharged its advertisers based on inflated circulation rates.

On March 27, however, San Jose attorney James Roberts, who represented the plaintiff, told a Superior Court judge that it was no longer “economically viable” to pursue the action. It had asked for millions of dollars in damages.

The dismissal ended a nearly year-long legal squabble between the newspaper and the Chico News & Review, whose publisher helped organize the suit against the Enterprise-Record.

It started last summer, when the CN&R was tipped off that the Enterprise-Record was inflating the circulation rates of the Mid Valley News in order to beef up advertising in it.

The News, a weekly free paper that’s supposed to be delivered to homes that don’t subscribe to the Enterprise-Record, was being dumped instead of delivered, callers revealed, and the Enterprise-Record was doing nothing about it.

CN&R Publisher Jeff vonKaenel called attorney Roberts, who had successfully sued the Oakland Tribune for $3 million over a similar issue. Roberts found Mary Redding, the owner of DanMar Management Company, who agreed to be named as the plaintiff. Both the CN&R and the Enterprise-Record wrote about the suit several times.

Then, just a couple of months after the suit was filed, the Enterprise-Record filed suit challenging the CN&R’s status as a newspaper of legal record, based on the paper’s number of paid subscribers.

Superior Court Judge Loyd Mulkey ruled in the Enterprise-Record’s favor in October, but he stayed his motion, allowing the CN&R to continue running legal notices while it appeals the ruling.