In the battle over ownership of fact-checking website Snopes.com, creator David Mikkelson was handed an early victory Thursday that should keep him in power as CEO of the company, and return months of lost advertising revenue to the cash-strapped site.
Snopes’ parent company Bardav, Inc. and Mikkelson were sued earlier this year by the company’s advertising partner and alleged co-owner, Proper Media, for breach of contract, civil conspiracy and corporate waste, among other things.
Proper Media is seeking to be recognized as the beneficial owner of 50 percent of Bardav. The media firm is also attempting to have Mikkelson removed as a director of Bardav.
The suit, ongoing since May and involving counterclaims made by Bardav, is still months away from being decided, but three separate motions are scheduled to be heard on Friday.
In a tentative ruling issued ahead of Friday’s hearing, Judge Judith Hayes of the San Diego Superior Court decided in favor of Bardav in two crucial causes of action.
Proper Media cannot remove Mikkelson as a director of the company, the judge said.
“Proper Media does not have standing to seek removal of Mikkelson. … Plaintiffs have not presented sufficient evidence to prove fraudulent acts,” Hayes wrote in her decision.
The judge also granted Bardav’s request for Proper Media to release the advertising revenue the firm has withheld from the company.
Bardav contends that Proper Media has cut the company off from advertising monies since April. It estimates that at least $500,000 in funds are owed to date, and that monthly upkeep expenses total more than…
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