Sam Zell, shown here in 1995, is being sued by a group of reporters for what they say were “illegal and irresponsible actions and public statements.”
Former reporters from the L.A. Times and at least one current star columnist have filed a class-action suit against Sam Zell. The billionaire’s reign over the paper beginning in late 2007 has not been pretty, and the lawsuit contends that recent violations of federal financial rules have “diminished the value of the employee-owned company to benefit himself and his fellow board members.”
I’m told that lawyers representing current and former Los Angeles Times newsroom staffers are filing a class-action federal lawsuit against Sam Zell and Tribune this morning in Los Angeles, alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, conflicts of interest and other violations of ERISA, the law that safeguards the proper handling of retirement benefits like pensions and trusts.
The plaintiffs include several familiar bylines and at least one current Times star. A team has been looking into Zell’s leveraged takeover of Tribune almost since he used employee money to get the company. Details to come.
The suit has been formally filed and the plaintiffs include Dan Neil, the paper’s Pulitzer-winning auto columnist; Jack Nelson, the much-honored retired Washington bureau chief; Henry Weinstein, the legal affairs writer who took a buyout to join the UC Irvine School of Law; Myron Levin, an investigative reporter who left recently; and Corie Brown, who most recently covered food and wine.