TFP answers Blade lawsuit, files countersuitsWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo Free Press LLC, Publisher Tom Pounds and Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller responded on Dec. 19 to a lawsuit filed Oct. 20 by Block Communications, owner of The Blade. In its suit, Block Communications made numerous claims primarily involving alleged violations of a separation agreement with then-Blade General Manager Pounds, signed in 2004.
That separation agreement had a covenant not to compete for a period of one year.
Block Communications sought damages for claims that Pounds has used Toledo Free Press and Miller as a surrogate to violate non-disparagement terms of the separation agreement.
In the Toledo Free Press Dec. 19 response and counterclaim, to be filed in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas, it is asserted that Miller has never seen the Blade-Pounds separation agreement, which was created before the existence of TFP, and neither he nor TFP is a party to nor is bound by its terms. It is further asserted that Block Communications is attempting to exercise prior restraint on Miller’s First Amendment rights and has acted with malice in an attempt to interfere with Miller’s and TFP’s business.
The TFP counterclaim further asserts that Block Communications “has engaged in contacting various organizations around the City of Toledo seeking to preclude the TFP from being able to be sponsors of events, or limit its ability to do business with those companies and organizations; including but not limited to The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, Partners in Education, United Way of Greater Toledo, The Toledo Mud Hens, Citifest, University of Toledo, Boys and Girls Club of Toledo, Home Builders Association, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, The City of Toledo Mayor’s Office, The Lucas County Auditor, Imagination Station, The Toledo Walleye, the Huntington Center, etc.”
In Pounds’ countersuit, it is stated, “The separation agreement between Pounds and [Block Communications] has been completed after Pounds’ covenant not to compete ran and [Block Communications] is using said agreement simply as a tool to economically harm the TFP and/or Pounds by attempting to enforce the non-compete after it expired.”
Toledo Free Press LLC is seeking actual damages plus punitive damages of $10 million from Block Communications.
In a statement, Miller said he and Pounds feel it is important to remind Toledoans that legal action was initiated by Block Communications, not TFP, and while The Blade may be able to sustain a long-term nuisance lawsuit, TFP is being forced to fight for its existence.
“It is unfortunate that so many people are going to be made uncomfortable by this legal attack on our business, but we are being forced to pull the curtains back and show how The Blade has interfered with our livelihood, well beyond the bounds of fair and legal competition,” Miller said. “We can express regret and apologize to those who will be called to testify in this case, but it was not our choice to go down this road.”