By Ray Dyer
El Reno Tribune
Newspaper publishers and former publishers on the east side of Canadian County are suing one another in Canadian and Oklahoma counties.
The publisher of the Yukon Review, Star Communication Corp., last week, filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma County against the publisher of the upstart Yukon Progress. In the lawsuit, Star, owned by John Settle and family, alleges Progress publisher Randy Anderson hired former Review employees who, while still employed by the Review, had signed “confidentiality” agreements that forbid them from working for competing publications or newspapers in Canadian, Oklahoma or Grady counties.
The lawsuit also alleges Anderson has purposefully tried to damage the Review by telling potential advertisers the Review has no advertising staff and is bankrupt, as well as “embellishing” the number of paid subscribers to the Progress. Also named in the suit are former Review employees Chuck Reherman and Jim Powell as well as Anjanette Higgins.
Powell and Reherman are news and sports reporters, while Higgins is involved in advertising sales. The lawsuit said when Anderson was notified by Settle that all three had signed the “confidentiality agreements” while with the Review, Higgins was terminated from employment with the Progress “almost immediately,” Powell is no longer listed as a “staff writer” but is considered a “contributing writer” and Reherman remains on the job.
The lawsuit claims the agreement with the former Review employees “constitutes a contract.” The confidentiality agreements were enacted while John Miller was the owner and publisher of the Review, but transferred when he sold the newspaper to the Settles and Star Communication in 2015, the lawsuit states.
In another action filed earlier this year in Oklahoma County, Star Communication Corp., had filed a third party claim against John and Kathy Miller alleging the Miller’s had breached several terms of the Yukon Review purchase agreement as well as the real estate purchase agreement entered into by Star Communication. Star’s claims against the Millers include allegations of breach of contract as well as fraud and deceit regarding the disclosures not made to Star as required by the terms of the agreements.
The Oklahoma County action was filed by the newspaper printing company Suburban Graphics, Inc., in which both John Miller, who sold the Review to Star and Star Communication are named defendants.
Each of Star Communication’s counts against the Millers in the Oklahoma County action allege damages in excess of $75,000 have been suffered by Star Communication because of the Millers breach of the terms of the agreements.
John Miller has now filed two lawsuits in Canadian County against Star Communication alleging breach of contract. The lawsuits claim Settle has failed to make monthly payments on the purchase of both the Review, as well as the building in which it is housed, 110 S. 5th St., in Yukon. The newspaper purchase price was $725,000, while the real estate agreement was for $525,000. The lawsuits contend Star Communications agreed to put $50,000 down, paid to Son of Thunder Properties, LLC, as well as a promissory note for $475,000 to be paid in monthly installments for the building. The second suit, claims Settle has failed to make payments on the $725,000 purchase of the Review and its assets.
William Tharp, a Yukon attorney, said he would rather not talk about the lawsuits. “I represent John Miller and his wife and I’ll just leave it at that,” he said.
Attempts to reach Randy Anderson were not successful.