Dunning suit wages on against Ziff

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Former Ziff Davis Media Chairman-CEO Jim Dunning, still locked in an acrimonious legal battle with financial bankers Willis Stein & Partners, is ready to launch a spate of new filings against his former employer.

"We'll be filing things almost on a daily basis in the next week or two," said Mr. Dunning's attorney, Blair Fensterstock of Fensterstock & Partners. He did not specify what the filings would be. But they would come on the heels of a ruling last month that left both sides claiming victory.

The March 4 ruling dismissed 12 of 19 claims Mr. Dunning made against Willis Stein, Ziff Davis and individual defendants. The judge also dismissed all charges against six individuals named by Mr. Dunning. The defendants had asked for the dismissal in full of 15 claims and partial dismissal of two others.

"We were very pleased with the result," said a spokeswoman for Kirkland & Ellis, the legal firm representing Ziff Davis and Willis Stein. "We continue to believe we will prevail on all the claims."

Still pending, however, are claims of Mr. Dunning that ask for damages of more than $100 million, and $100 million in punitive damages. Among them are two counts alleging breach of contract, one of age discrimination and, likely the most explosive, a breach of covenant charge alleging Willis Stein directed Mr. Dunning "to ... overstate Ziff Davis' financial outlook to investment banks." Mr. Dunning did not return a call seeking comment.

No trial date has yet been set. The case is currently in the discovery phase, which is slated to last until the end of June.

"The substantive allegations of our complaint have been completely upheld," Mr. Fensterstock said. "If Willis Stein or Ziff Davis think that's a victory, they should let their shareholders know that Willis Stein's actions and the actions of the board may cause those shareholders to cough up over $100 million, plus punitive damages. If that's a victory, I'll eat my hat."

The Kirkland & Ellis spokeswoman declined to comment on any of Mr. Fensterstock's remarks. A Ziff Davis spokeswoman referred a call for comment to the Kirkland & Ellis spokeswoman.

For the quarter ending Dec. 31, excluding a substantial restructuring charge, Ziff Davis posted a loss of $43.9 million as its revenue fell 41.2% to $73.9 million.

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