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Carriers for San Diego paper awarded nearly $5M

  • Associated Press
  • January 22, 2014 - 8:40 PM

SAN DIEGO — A judge awarded $10 million to newspaper carriers and their lawyers in a lawsuit against the former owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer ruled last month that about 1,200 carriers who delivered papers from 2005 through mid-2007 were employees entitled to reimbursement for their car mileage and other expenses — not independent contractors who had to cover their own costs, according to court documents.

Meyer awarded the carriers about $5 million, of which $1.25 million will go to their lawyers. On Tuesday, he ordered the newspaper to pay another $5 million to those lawyers.

The paper's former owner, The Copley Press, is responsible for paying the award, although it will be determined later whether a successive owner, Platinum Equity LLC, also is responsible, said Daniel J. Callahan, an attorney for the carriers.

Beverly Hills-based Platinum bought the paper in 2009 and sold it two years later to San Diego real estate developer Doug Manchester, who renamed it U-T San Diego.

Manchester and his company are not named in the current lawsuit, but attorneys for the carriers are reserving the right to bring them in later as defendants, Callahan said.

His Santa Ana-based law firm, Callahan & Blaine, has filed similar lawsuits against other newspapers.

In 2012, thousands of carriers agreed to accept $30 million to settle a class-action lawsuit against the Orange County Register.

A trial is scheduled next month in a lawsuit filed against the owners of the Sacramento Bee, and another trial is set for May in a case against the Fresno Bee.

© 2014 Star Tribune