Valassis issued a press release today announcing that a trial date for its federal antitrust lawsuit against News America has been set for February 2, 2010:
Valassis (NYSE: VCI), one of the nation's leading media and marketing services companies, announced that, on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009, United States District Court Judge Arthur J. Tarnow formally scheduled Valassis' federal trial against News America Incorporated ("News America") for Feb. 2, 2010. Valassis originally filed the action in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan on Jan. 18, 2006 alleging violations of the Sherman Act. Generally, the complaint alleges that News America has improperly leveraged and tied the purchase of its in-store promotion and advertising services to the purchase of space in its free-standing insert (FSI) and that News America has attempted to monopolize the FSI market. Judge Tarnow denied all motions for summary judgment and established the trial schedule.
"With a court date set, we are eager to move forward with the second of our three cases against News America to restore lost value to our shareholders and return to a fair and even playing field in the FSI marketplace," said Alan F. Schultz, Valassis Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.
As announced on July 23, 2009, a Wayne County Circuit Court jury awarded Valassis $300 million for compensatory damages in its first of three lawsuits against News America. News America was found liable for unfair competition and tortious interference. This award accumulates interest on a compounding basis beginning from March 9, 2007, the date the complaint was filed. The award is subject to the risks of post-trial motions, appeal and collection.
In addition to the Federal antitrust law claims, Valassis has a lawsuit pending against News America in the Supreme Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles raising claims under California's Cartwright, Unfair Competition and Unfair Practices Acts. This case is not currently scheduled for trial. Under the relevant Federal and California laws, any compensatory damages awarded in either of the remaining cases will be automatically tripled by the respective court.