Phila. judge grants injunction request in IGM case, returns fired Inquirer editor to newsroom

By Jon Campisi | Dec 3, 2013

William Marimow is back in the newsroom.

The editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who was fired in early October, is once again the newspaper’s top dog, after a Philadelphia judge granted an injunction seeking to reinstate Marimow to the position he held prior to his Oct. 7 termination.

Common Pleas Court Judge Patricia McInerney issued her ruling just before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decision that seemed to please H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest and Lewis Katz, two owners with controlling interest in Interstate General Media, the company that more than a year ago purchased the Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and the website

The two men in early October sued IGM and Robert Hall, the Inquirer’s publisher, over Marimow’s firing.

Katz and Lenfest maintained that the firing violated a management agreement whereby Katz and George E. Norcross, III, another co-owner, would agree to discuss all major company decisions in regard to their respective roles on a two-member management committee.

In their lawsuit, Katz and Lenfest argued that Hall improperly terminated Marimow.

During oral arguments at Common Pleas Court last month, the plaintiffs’ lawyers painted a picture of the defendants inappropriately meddling in newsroom business with the ordering of Marimow’s firing, while the defendants countered that the plaintiffs’ desire to reinstate Marimow essentially amounted to the same.

The defense had argued that Hall, in his role as publisher, appropriately fired Marimow because the editor refused to implement specific changes at the newspaper, and due to his apparent refusal to fire top deputy editors.

Marimow was not a party to the litigation.

McInerney issued her ruling on Nov. 26, court records show.

The docket in the civil case shows that defense attorneys filed a notice of appeal to the state’s Superior Court later that same day.

McInerney subsequently filed another order directing the defense to file a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal by Dec. 23.

The defendants argue that not only did McInerney err in her interpretation of the law, but that by reinstating Marimow she created a problematic situation in the newsroom; Hall, the publisher, and Marimow, the person whom he previously canned, would now have to work side by side.

The defense is seeking to have the Superior Court hear the appeal in an expedited fashion.

The litigation exposed a rift between two factions in Interstate General Media; one side consisting of Katz, a millionaire who made his money in parking lots, and Lenfest, a well-known Philadelphia-area philanthropist, and the other side headed up by Norcross, a politically connected South Jersey Democratic Party boss whose brother is a senator in the Garden State.

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