By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The firing of the editor in chief at the Philadelphia Inquirer that touched off a legal brawl between the wealthy owners has been reversed in court.
When editor in chief Bill Marimow was let go last month by publisher Bob Hall, rival co-owners sued each other.
One side, featuring co-owners Lewis Katz and Gerry Lenfest, wanted Marimow reinstated and Hall removed. The other faction, lead by partner George Norcross, claimed Hall had the authority to fire employees, including Marimow.
Judge Patricia McInerney, who heard four days of arguments and testimony in her courtroom, and even tried to broker settlement talks in her chambers, has ordered the bickering owners to give Bill Marimow his old job back.
When he was on the stand, Marimow testified he was let go after he refused to fire or demote five veteran editors.
The friction was between two co-owners who represent rival factions, Lewis Katz, who supports Marimow, and George Norcross.
Katz testified that he felt Hall, the publisher, was doing Norcross’ bidding, and Norcross wanted Marimow out. Norcross chose not to testify.
The judge previously ruled against the Katz faction, which wanted Hall removed as publisher.
Attorneys for the Katz/Lenfest group say the ruling is a ‘victory for journalistic independence and integrity’ which ‘other members of the current ownership group were attempting to erode.’
The Norcross group will file an appeal, contending Marimow would be a ‘lame duck editor.’ They say his contract expires next April, and the current top down structure will ‘subject the company to paralysis.’