LIVONIA, Mich. -- Valassis, one of the nation's leading media and marketing services companies, announced today that the Honorable Michael F. Sapala of Michigan's Wayne County Circuit Court has denied the post-trial motions made by News America (News), a division of News Corp., for a new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict with respect to the July 2009 trial. This ruling leaves intact the jury award of $300 million to Valassis for compensatory damages. In the trial, Valassis claimed unfair competition and tortious interference by News. The jury's unanimous verdict found News liable for both counts.
In his opinion, in addition to finding ample evidence in the record to support Valassis' claim of unfair competition, Judge Sapala noted, "With regard to plaintiff's claim of tortious interference, there is sufficient record evidence to support the jury's verdict particularly with regard to defendant's deceptive, fraudulent and unethical behavior."
"We are pleased with Judge Sapala's opinion, and we look forward to moving ahead with our two remaining cases against News," said Todd L. Wiseley, Valassis General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Administration.
As previously announced, United States District Court Judge Arthur J. Tarnow formally scheduled Valassis' federal trial against News 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 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 has attempted to monopolize the FSI market. In September 2009, Judge Tarnow denied all motions for summary judgment and established the trial schedule.
In addition to the Federal antitrust law claims, Valassis has a lawsuit pending against News 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.
News has publicly indicated that they plan to appeal the Wayne County verdict to the Michigan Court of Appeals.