Pacifica Safety Net Lawsuit Dismissed

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LA Superior Court Throws Out Goldmacher-Huggins-Turner Lawsuit 

Berkeley – Three strikes and they’re out. On Friday, July 30, Judge Michael Stern dismissed the Pacifica Safety Net lawsuit for the failure to make a viable complaint after four tries. A demurrer filed by defendants Grace Aaron and Alex Steinberg was upheld without leave to amend and the plaintiff’s case dismissed with prejudice. 

The court order can be seen here

In an eight page ruling, Judge Stern stated:

This is the fourth attempt by plaintiffs to state a viable cause of action in this matter. 

The judge goes on to state:

None of the action[s} …. alleged to have been taken by the two individual defendants were taken without board approval, violated any statute, placed the nonprofit status of Pacifica in any actual jeopardy, or resulted in any action by the California Attorney General’s Office to affect Pacifica’s nonprofit status. 

Moreover:

Alleging and re-alleging, over and over again throughout the complaint that the individual defendants committed “misfeasance, malfeasance and breach of fiduciary duty” without facts to substantiate these bald conclusions is insufficient to support the assertion that the individual directors violated their corporate board fiduciary responsibilities and director duties. 

The lawsuit began on December 8, 2020 with a demand for the court to take all of Pacifica’s assets, including its station licenses and real estate properties as well as all cash in bank and place them under the control of a San Bernardino attorney named Matthew Taylor under the supervision of the court. After that demand was rejected by the court, plaintiffs Donald Goldmacher (KPFA delegate), Christina Huggins (KPFA delegate, chair of KPFA local station board) and Andrea Turner (KPFA listener representative director on the PNB), revised their lawsuit into a derivative action asking for unspecified financial damages from two individual directors, 1 current (Alex Steinberg – WBAI and 1 former (Grace Aaron – KPFK). A fourth plaintiff, Craig Alderson (former KPFA delegate) withdrew from the lawsuit.

After the plaintiffs revised the complaint two more times, the court has now dispensed of it for inadequacy. 

KPFA, Pacifica’s Berkeley station, has been bearing the cost of the litigation iniated by the chair of their LSB. It is unknown if the Pacifica Foundation will request that the plaintiffs reimburse the station for the costs of their lawsuit. 

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Started in 1946 by conscientious objector Lew Hill, Pacifica’s storied history includes impounded program tapes for a 1954 on-air discussion of marijuana, broadcasting the Seymour Hersh revelations of the My Lai massacre, bombings by the Ku Klux Klan, going to jail rather than turning over the Patty Hearst tapes to the FBI, and Supreme Court cases including the 1984 decision that noncommercial broadcasters have the constitutional right to editorialize, and the Seven Dirty Words ruling following George Carlin’s incendiary performances on WBAI. Pacifica Foundation Radio operates noncommercial radio stations in New York, Washington, Houston, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and syndicates content to over 180 affiliates. It invented listener-sponsored radio.

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