Not so fast, Mr. Greenspun

With his siblings handing over ownership of the Las Vegas Sun to Brian Greenspun, the sole proprietor announced that he was dropping his lawsuit against the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which sought to end the quarter-century-old Joint Operating Agreement between the two papers.

But the RJ isn't letting Greenspun off so easily -- or cheaply. 

In a motion filed in court, the RJ's parent, Stephens Media, chafes at Greenspun seeking "to walk away from the proceedings he improvidently started by voluntarily dismissing this action without prejudice...Though Plaintiff understandably tries to downplay the amount of activity that occurred in this litigation over the past year, the reality is that Defendants incurred substantial legal fees and costs defending themselves against the serious, albeit unripe and unfounded, antitrust charges leveled against them by Plaintiff."

Indeed, a judge twice refused to act on  Greenspun's lawsuit because of a lack of ripeness, and most experts weighed in that the suit had little chance of success. Meanwhile, Greenspun continued to negotiate with his three siblings, whom he never named in the litigation, and they eventually agreed to relinquish the Sun to him.

But, Stephens Media argues, because it had to spend six figures pursuing the case, including arranging for a deposition, which never occurred, from patriarch Warren Stephens, it wants fees and costs before the suit is dismissed.

In an affidavit, supported by email correspondence, Stephens attorney Colby Williams details a lack of communication from Greenspun attorney Leif Reid as hampering the case and costing Stephens time and money.

The key paragraph of the motion, which is attached here along with the affidavit:

In the end, Plaintiff’s desire to voluntarily dismiss this action without conditions after a year of litigation is unfounded and, more importantly, unjust. After all, Plaintiff has now obtained what he wanted—outright ownership of the Las Vegas Sun newspaper and the continued existence of the JOA. Plaintiff’s siblings and the Greenspun entities—which were never sued by Plaintiff in this action despite the Court’s recognition they likely constituted indispensable parties — likewise obtained what they wanted by ridding themselves of the financial burdens associated with operating a failing newspaper. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Defendants were dragged into a lawsuit, forced to incur six figures worth of attorney’s fees and costs throughout a year of meritless antitrust litigation, and have nothing to show for it as the proposed JOA transaction giving rise to this action will not be consummated—which is the very outcome that made Plaintiff’s lawsuit unripe in the first place. Fairness, equity, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure all dictate that Plaintiff must now pay Defendants their attorneys’ fees and costs as a condition of dismissing this ill-conceived litigation. 

(Disclosure: The attorneys for the RJ also have acted as my counsel.)