September 9, 2010 at 6:14 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Metro Weekly calls lawsuit ‘irresponsible’

A lawsuit filed in July against the local LGBT magazine Metro Weekly by the company that owns the Washington Post over an alleged $85,000 printing debt is a “sloppy pleading” and should be dismissed with prejudice, lawyers representing the magazine said in an Aug. 23 motion.

The motion, filed in D.C. Superior Court, says the court lacks jurisdiction over the lawsuit’s allegation of breach of contract against Jansi LLC, the company that publishes and operates Metro Weekly, for the alleged 2005 printing debt.

The lawsuit says the alleged printing debt stems from printing services Metro Weekly used from Comprint, a Gaithersburg, Md., printing plant owned by Post-Newsweek Media.

Metro Weekly’s motion to dismiss the suit says Post-Newsweek Media also failed to substantiate its second allegation in the lawsuit — that Jansi LLC engaged in fraud by entering into a licensing agreement with Isosceles Publishing, the company that published and operated Metro Weekly up until November 2007, for the alleged purpose of evading debts and liabilities.

The lawsuit says that as a result of the alleged fraud, Post-Newsweek Media “suffered damages in a sum to be proved at trial but expected to exceed $1,000,000.”

Attorneys for Metro Weekly have said the debt was incurred exclusively by Isosceles and that Jansi, which assumed all publishing responsibilities over Metro Weekly in 2007, is not responsible for the debt.

The lawsuit’s fraud allegation “fails to state a cause of action on which relief can be granted because the plaintiff has failed … to state underlying facts in sufficient detail and with sufficient particularity of the five factual elements necessary to support a fraud claim,” the motion to dismiss says.

It says that under court rules and D.C. law, the allegation of breach of contract must be dismissed because Post-Newsweek Media filed a nearly identical lawsuit in 2009 against Isosceles Publishing over the same alleged $85,000 printing debut and failed to name Jansi LLC as a defendant.

The motion says that under court rules and D.C. law, Post-Newsweek Media is precluded from adding Jansi LLC  and one of its two shareholders, Randy Shulman, as defendants in the second lawsuit.

The attorney representing Post-Newsweek Media did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The Post-Newsweek lawsuit alleges that Shulman, the principal owner of Isosceles Publishing and a part owner of Jansi LLC, Jansi, and Isosceles “entered into the 2007 License Agreement with the specific intention of evade Isosceles’ creditors while continuing to publish, and reap revenue from, Metro Weekly.”

D.C. attorney John Karr is one of the two attorneys that filed the motion to dismiss on behalf of Metro Weekly.

“Post-Newsweek has not identified a false representation made to it by the present defendants,” the motion says. “Nor a material fact about which any representation has been made. Nor any reference or basis of knowledge on the parts of these defendants of the falsity of any statements made by either to Post-Newsweek…This is not just sloppy pleading, it is irresponsible, and a far cry from what the rules and the decisional law interpreting them require,” it says.

Superior Court Judge John Ramsey Johnson, who is presiding over the case, must decide whether to grant or reject the motion to dismiss.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • “Attorneys for Metro Weekly have said the debt was incurred exclusively by Isosceles and that Jansi, which assumed all publishing responsibilities over Metro Weekly in 2007, is not responsible for the debt.”

    So does that mean that anyone who buys or assumes ownership of the assets of a business can just ignore the previous debts of that business while reaping the benefits of the purchased or assumed assets? If the previous responsibility expressly took responsibility for the debts, probably yes. If not, it seems Metro Weekly’s management must pony up. Trying to get out of a legitimate debt is sleazy.

    Any attorneys want to weigh in?

  • Skyline – The situation you describe seems very similar to that of the current owners of the Washinbton Blade, who took over the assets of the previous publication but none of the debt.

  • I call re-organizing to avoid paying one’s debt irresponsible, eh Mr. Shulman. When big bad corporate America does it, it’s soooooooooooooooooo wrong! When Metro Weekly does it, it’s okey-dokey!

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