Norcross court appeal: Marimow endangers ‘survival’ of Phila Inquirer

    A group of Philadelphia Inquirer owners has appealed last Friday’s court order restoring Bill Marimow as editor of the paper, charging that “every day Mr. Marimow serves as the Inquirer’s Editor endangers the paper’s chances of survival.”

    Marimow was fired on October 7th, but last Friday Common Please Judge Patrica McInerney ordered the paper to restore him to his job.

    Co-owners Lewis Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest had sued to reverse the firing, charging that his removal required the approval of a two-member management committee consisting of Katz and New Jersey businessman George Norcross, the two principals among the investors that bought the paper last year. Katz, McInerney found, wasn’t consulted and was thus denied his vote on the matter.

    The owners allied with Norcross have now asked the Pennsylvania Superior Court to act quickly to vacate McInerney’s order and remove Marimow. The filing says McInerney incorrectly interpreted the powers of the owners in her ruling, and that Marimow’s presence will be harmful to the paper.

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    The filing notes that Marimow’s contract lasts only through next April, and it says the “court’s order jams the Inquirer’s Publisher [Bob Hall, who fired Marimow] and Editor back together, unreasonably expecting them to work together despite their long-standing and deep-seated professional disagreements.

    You can read the Norcross group’s appeal here.

    In response, here’s a statement released late Tuesday by Bill Chadwick, Marimow’s personal attorney:

    “This appeal has no merit. It misstates the issues and makes assertions that are not supported by the record. Judge McInerney’s handling of this case was exemplary. She saw clearly that the case is about the voting rights of corporate owners, and that one of those owners, Lewis Katz, was denied a voice in a very significant business decision – the firing of Bill Marimow. Finding that Mr. Katz’s voting rights were violated, Judge McInerney granted the preliminary injunction reinstating Mr. Marimow, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, as editor-in-chief of The Philadelphia Inquirer. That decision on voting rights was a victory for the independence of the newsroom, and it should be noted that the reporters and staff of the Inquirer welcomed Mr. Marimow back with a standing ovation.”

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