Inquirer owners’ ugly divorce aired in court

    Lewis Katz, the co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer who is suing over the dismissal of editor-in-chief Bill Marimow said on the witness stand today that he objected to publisher Bob Hall running the company on a part-time basis and “calling from a cell phone on a golf course when we were having a business meeting.”

    It was Hall who fired Marimow Oct. 7, citing Marimow’s resistance to a series of changes at the paper, including the dismissal of several staff members.

    Katz and co-owner H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest argue that Hall lacked the authority to fire Marimow, because key business decisions had to be approved by Katz and Norcross, the principal investors in the group that bought the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com in April of last year.

    Plenty of bad blood

    In more than three hours on the witness stand, Katz detailed conflicts with Hall and Norcross, whom Katz said wanted to get rid of Marimow. Katz said he was troubled that Hall said in the fall of 2012 that he wanted to work on a part time basis.

    Katz said that in early 2013 Hall spent most of his time in Florida and often joined meetings by telephone. Katz said he objected because the company needed a full-time manager.

    Katz also testified that when he raised complaints about Hall with Norcross, Norcross told him that their initial agreement was that Norcross would mostly run the business and that Katz would be less involved because he wanted to travel and spend time with his family.  Katz added that Norcross said if he’d known what he knows now, he wouldn’t have invested with Katz and would have sought other partners.

    Katz also said that when it was clear that Norcross and Hall wanted to fire Marimow, he issues a warning. “I said ‘I’m going to file suit. This is the Rubicon,'” he said.

    You can read about Wednesday’s testimony of Katz and other principals in the case here.

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