Judge Declines to Speed Tribune Ownership Case

Judge Declines to Speed Tribune Ownership Case

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Other issues in the four-years-long battle over ownership of The Salt Lake Tribune will remain stayed pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging an appraisal of the newspaper, said a federal judge who declined to speed handling of the case.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December overturned a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart upholding a $355.5 million price tag on the paper and sent the case back to him.

The Tribune's longtime former owners, the McCarthey family, who are trying to buy back the paper, contend the appraisal was botched.

Patrick Carome, representing the former owners, asked Stewart to set a schedule for the case.

"This is a perfect opportunity to put the case on an expedited basis and get it ready for trial this fall," Carome said. "Special attention is called for."

Stewart said, "I don't think I need to give it special recognition (over other cases). There are a lot of matters before the court."

The case will follow normal procedure, Stewart said Monday.

Stewart set a March 31 deadline for MediaNews and Management Planning Inc., the New Jersey-based firm that performed the challenged appraisal, to respond to the family's motion to lift a discovery stay in the case.

Other issues that will remain on hold include the original lawsuit challenging the January 2001 sale to the current owner, MediaNews Group Inc.

The McCarthey family contends it has a contractual option to buy back the Tribune five years after selling it in 1997 to Telecommunications Inc.

The family contends that when AT&T acquired TCI in 1999, it promised to honor the option, but AT&T instead sold it to MediaNews for $200 million.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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