REGIONAL— Nearly 100 supporters of the Timberjay Newspapers had donated more than $10,000 to the newspaper’s legal defense fund as of Monday this week, fully two-thirds of the way to the newspaper's $15,000 goal. The fund was established on Aug. 26.
The Timberjay is seeking the funds to help cover a portion of the cost of a lawsuit filed by Gary and Edna Albertson, owners of the Cook News Herald and the Tower News, who are minority shareholders in the Timberjay, as well as direct competitors of the award-winning newspaper.
“We’ve been incredibly humbled by the show of support from so many friends and readers who have been willing to help pay the cost of defending against a clearly false and malicious lawsuit,” said Publisher Marshall Helmberger.
In a motion filed last month, the Albertsons’ attorney John Colosimo appears to have dropped most of the original allegations in the suit, which was served on Helmberger and Timberjay General Manager Jodi Summit back in December. The suit was filed in district court in Virginia in mid-August.
The only significant remaining allegation raised in the motion is a claim by Gary Albertson and Colosimo that Helmberger and Summit failed to provide the Albertsons with the company’s annual tax return, which includes the company’s year-end profit and loss and balance sheet. Albertson makes the claim in a sworn affidavit prepared by Colosimo.
Yet the claim is provably false, according to Helmberger, particularly since Albertson and Colosimo previously acknowledged in sworn answers earlier in the case’s discovery phase that the Albertsons have received the tax returns each year. In more than a dozen letters from Albertson, spanning over at least 15 years, the rival publisher acknowledges receiving the tax returns, asks questions about specific items in the returns, and complains about profitability. Those letters have been in Colosimo’s possession for months.
“We think when the judge sees what they’ve done, this case is going to be over,” said Helmberger. “And we will be asking for full payment of our attorney fees and other costs associated with this vindictive attack on our character and our business.”