Thursday, December 11, 2008

Newspaper war erupts in SW Kansas

The 121-year-old newspaper in the southwest Kansas town of Liberal is suing its upstart competition — a daily publication in the same town that’s published by its former employees.

Liberal Publishing Co., which puts out the Southwest Times and two free weeklies, filed suit against Seward County Publishing and five former Southwest Times employees who started the new High Plains Daily Leader in May.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Wichita, seeks unspecified damages for alleged computer fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty by the former employees. It also accuses them of deceit, interfering with business relations, defamation and civil conspiracy.

Daily Leader publisher Earl Watt — who was publisher of the Southwest Times and president of Liberal Publishing — denied the allegations Wednesday, calling the lawsuit a last-ditch effort to force his new paper out of business.

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