Archive for the ‘Reports’ Category

UPDATE: ERDC Settlement and Postmedia Stock. Information for Class Action Claimants

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee saga is almost over! After study, a committee formed of ERDC executive members Tracey Arial, Julia Gedeon and Mary Soderstrom, have determined that 59 claimants in the ERDC’s class action against The Montreal Gazette and its various owners will divide 126,015 shares of Postmedia Canada Network Corp Class C Voting Shares. On August 24, 2015 stock transfer certificate requests were sent to Computershare, which has been holding the stock received in the settlement.

We would like to say that claimants will be able to translate the stock immediately into a lot of money, but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

At the time this is being written, the stock is trading at 37 cents a share, and there is very little activity. What will happen in the future is unclear, but it’s very certain that if everyone tries to unload the stock, its value will plummet. Indeed, it was to avoid surpressing the price that the ERDC decided not to try to sell all the stock it received in the settlement, but to make the pay-out to claimants in stock. To this end we also decided this spring not to sell the stock for less than $1 a share. We are suggesting that claimants consider doing likewise.

Here are things that claimants should know:

1. Since the stock is part of a settlement, they don’t need to pay tax on it.

2. If they realize a capital gain on it when they sell it, however, they will have to pay tax on that amount.

3. To manage this stock, claimants should consult a broker or contact one of the low-cost on-line brokerage firms like Questrade.

4. The claim and distribution process has been accomplished on a shoe string. We had estimates that it would cost $30 per claim, but in the end the total outlay has been about $200 for a post office box and clerical supplies, plus much volunteer work

5. To keep track of the stock’s value, here is a useful link:

Conrad Black also made some interesting criticisms of Postmedia and its recent performance in July:

And here’s an analysis of the situation from the Globe and Mail:

6. A short summary of the settlement and where it went.
Cash received: $83,210.27

The Fonds d’aide aux recours collectifs, the Quebec agency that provided seed money for the case, was due $85,090.05 for advances over the many years that the case took. The settlement money was used to pay that debt, topped up by $1,879.73 from the ERDC’s small independent bank account.

Under the ERDC’s agreement with its lawyers, they were entitled to $31,011.34. In an attempt to raise this money, 9,000 shares were sold between October 2014 and April 2015, netting $23,664.92. The shortfall was partly met by $252.84 from the ERDC’s small independent account and partly through the lawyers agreeing to accept additonal shares in lieu of cash.

Stock received: 189,479 shares of Postmedia Canada Network Corp Class C Voting Shares.

Of these, as noted above, 9000 were sold to raise cash. Under the ERDC’s agreement with its lawyers, they were entitled to 47,370 shares. They also agreed to accept 7094 additional shares in lieu of cash they were owed, so they will receive 54,464 shares.

This left 126,015 shares for distribution to the claimants.

Note about the ERDC’s independent bank account: this was money raised in fund raising campaigns early in the class action, and which has been spent very sparingly. Among the expenses: web hosting fees over the years and the clerical supplies necessary for the distribution process. If there is any money left when the distribution process if completed, class members will be consulted about what to do with it.

Mary Soderstrom, ERDC Chair
Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary

Report on the 2015 Annual General Meeting of the Electronic Rights Defence Committee

April 28, 2015
The Electronic Rights Defence Committee is working slowly but surely toward distribution of the Postmedia stock it received in settlement of its class action against The Gazette and the newspaper’s various owners. Fifty-seven claims representing 7185 articles were received in the six-month period during which freelancers who wrote for The Gazette between 1985 and 2010 could file claims.

A three-person committee composed of Tracey Arial, Julie Gedeon and Mary Soderstrom will be studying the claims. When it is clear just how many shares will be available for distribution, they will prepare the necessary distribution list.

As you will remember, in the various settlements the ERDC received 189,479 shares in PostMedia and $83,210.27 in cash. The $85,090.05 the ERDC owed the Fonds d’aide aux recours collectifs for seed money and initial work has been paid off with the $83,210.27 awarded in the settlement plus $1,879.73 from the ERDC’s small independent bank account. Now lawyers Me Mireille Goulet and Sylvestre, Fafard, Painchaud must be paid $23,917.76 they are owed plus the taxes they will have to pay on the 47,370 shares they are entitled to under our agreement.

To raise the necessary cash, the ERDC Executive has authorized the sale of some of the Postmedia shares. Last fall, 17,000 shares were transferred to a broker: sales had realized $16,858.69 as of March 31, 2015. Therefore more stock must be sold–how much will depend on the going price, which as of April 28 was 1 dollar a share.

At the meeting, Chair Mary Soderstrom, Treasurer Ron Diamond, Secretary Jack Ruttan as well as Members-at-large Tracey Arial, Ann Diamond, Julie Gedeon, and Stephanie O’Hanley agreed to serve another year.

Mary Soderstrom
ERDC Chair

Jack Ruttan
ERDC Secretary

Electronic Rights Defence Committee Update

Hello all

The ERDC held its Annual General Meeting March 24, 2014, at which the executive committee was re-elected: the officers now are Mary Soderstrom (Chair), Jack Ruttan (Secretary), Ron Diamond (Treasurer), David Homel (Class Representative), Tracey Arial, Anne Diamond, Julie Gedeon, and Stephanie O’Hanley (Executive Members at Large).

Our lawyers Mireille Goulet and Catherine Sylvestre brought us up to speed on the legal process. We have filed the necessary paperwork leading to a hearing before Judge Eva Petras on the notice to members about the distribution, which was approved by ERDC members at a special general meeting held November 28, 2012.

(You’ll remember that it was decided the pay-out would be in stock, and based on the number of stories a free lance writer published in The Gazette between 1985 and 2010: the minutes of that meeting are attached.) Drafts of the claim form and instructions for filling it out were reviewed also.

Several resolutions, such as authorization to open a post office box, were passed to facilitate the claims process (see attached minutes of the March 24, 2014 meeting.) A three person committee charged with overseeing the claims process was appointed: the members are Tracey Arial, Julie Gedeon and Mary Soderstrom. The major new element was the decision to authorize the sale of some of the 189,479 shares of Postmedia stock we hold in trust in order to make up the shortfall between the cash we received in the settlement ($83,210.27) and what we owe our lawyers and the Fonds d’aide aux recours collectifs for advances over the course of the class action. The number of shares to be sold will depend on the share price at the time of sale.

All this must be approved by the court, but we’re getting someplace.

For the ERDC,
Mary Soderstrom, Chair,
Jack Ruttan, Secretary

ERDC End of 2009 Update

Seasons’ greetings to all ERDC stalwarts!

The case goes on. As you may already know, our legal team is now larger. Our long-time lawyer Me Mireille Goulet will be working in collaboration with the firm of Sylvestre, Fafard, Painchaud, class action specialists. We hope to have some more news early in the new year.

In the meantime, our best wishes for a 2010 which will be at least as good, if not better, than 2009.

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary

Mary Soderstom, ERDC Chair

ERDC Update: March 2009 – Annual General Meeting

It was a three-in-one deal Wednesday March 25, 2009, as the Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) met for its annual general meeting, and the ERDC executive held two short meetings the same night. The first was to approve minutes of a previous Executive meeting and then attention turned to the annual general meeting agenda.

The AGM consisted mostly of updates on our case—our lawyer Mireille Goulet reported that we may get a decision on our class authorization by the end of April—and other cases similar to ours. The parties involved in Heather Robertson’s case against the Thomson chain were currently in discussions, while her case against ProQuest, CEDROM, Torstar, CanWest and Rogers has been certified by mutual consent. The Association des journalistes independents du Québec (AJIQ) is scheduled to have a hearing on its own class action authorization next week: its adversaries are French language newspapers, with the exception of the Le Devoir with which it settled several years ago.

Elections were held for the ERDC executive committee, with all members being re-elected: Mary Soderstrom, president; Jack Ruttan, secretary; Ron Diamond, treasurer; and executive members at large Tracey Arial, Ann Charney, Anne Diamond, Julie Gedeon, Peter McFarlane, Stuart Robertson, and Merrily Weisbord. The new executive approved a resolution agreeing to a contract with Me Goulet as required by the Fonds d’aide aux recours collectif (FARC), the provincial body which has provided on-going financial support since the beginning of our class action. The terms are the same as in previous contracts.

We’ll keep you updated when there are any new developments.

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary

Mary Soderstrom, ERDC Chair

ERDC Summer 2008 Update

Dear Electronic Rights Defense Committee (ERDC) members and supporters:

Our lawyer Mireille Goulet has “Good news! Great news!”

You might remember from last February that our hearing on continued financial aid from the Fonds d’aide aux recours collectifs, (FARC, the body funding class actions in Quebec) was cancelled at the last minute. We have been without news on this front –or new funds– since then. But last Monday, Mireille learned that FARC has a new President, and will begin holding hearings again, most likely at the end of August or September 2008 (although there is a slight possibility for the end of July).

Mireille says she was told by FARC staff that the ERDC is “amongst the first in line, so we will be heard amongst the first.” This means we may still have to undertake some fundraising, but Mireille suggests we wait until fall because summer is not good for fundraising. It should be noted, though, that the Writers’ Union of Canada approved $1,500 for the ERDC and the cheque should be arriving soon.

As for news on our hearing on class action authorization, there is none so far, but that is to be expected. Mireille says: “The judge has taken the case under advisement and has a period of about 6 months to render the decision.” She says the decision will be faxed to her, “probably around October.”

“Once we get the decision, there are 2 possibilities. Either we win and then we prepare and start a ‘new ‘ round of legal proceedings. If we win, the Defendants publishers have no right to appeal the decision, ” Mireille says. “If we lose, either partially or completely, we will have to consider an appeal of the decision.”

So, things are ‘to be continued.’ In the meantime, Mirielle closes by saying: “Last but not least, I do wish all of you a great summer and great Holidays. Enjoy!”

Same thing from Jack and Mary.

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary

Mary Soderstrom, ERDC President

ERDC Report to Members :2008 Annual General Meeting

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) held its 2008 Annual General Meeting Wednesday, March 26 at the Atwater Library Reading Room. Present were most of our executive, some new faces, as well as some who have been active in the past, but who have been busy recently. Our positive mood was fueled by the recent strong performance of Me. Mirielle Goulet at the hearings before the Superior Court of Montreal on our request for class action authorization, February 25, 26 and 27 of this year.

Me. Goulet’s legal report was the centerpiece of the meeting. She summarized her presentation at the hearings as well as that of the defendants. Those who had attended the hearings commented on the David and Goliath nature of the combat: where Me. Goulet acted by herself, the others had five attorneys present in court at all times. And, as Mireille noted, “we have our own David,” – class action representative David Homel. She would expect that the judge who heard the proceedings, the Honourable Justice Eva Petras, will render her decision within 6 months, which means it could be early fall before we have news.

Next order of business, President Mary Soderstrom’s report from the Chair. Basically she spoke about the need to provide some interim compensation for Me. Goulet, who has been working in practical terms without fee since 2003. We are exploring possible avenues, and will have more on this issue in future messages.

Next on the agenda: election of officers. President Mary Soderstrom, Secretary Jack Ruttan, and Treasurer Ron Diamond are sticking around, as are Executive Members at Large Merrily Weisbord, Ann Charney, plus Peter McFarlane and Stuart Robertson, who were not present, but had previously given notice of their assent. As well, Tracey Arial and Julia Gedeon have agreed to join the executive as Members at Large, while Anne Diamond has offered to work setting up a Facebook page. The meeting also passed motions of thanks to David Homel and Mary Soderstrom for their work.

So plenty has happened. We’re going to rely more on teleconferencing in the future, because meeting face to face is difficult with busy schedules. If the case is authorized, there’s a lot of work ahead, but the committee feels energized and ready to take on the challenge.

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary
Mary Soderstrom, ERDC President

ERDC Authorization Hearings – Final Day

Me. Mirielle Goulet made her point on the final day of the Electronic Rights Defence Committee’s class action authorization hearing.

The opposition, drawn from three different high-profile law firms, finished their rebuttal to her presentation. She gave a rebuttal to them, and then they had a chance to answer her rebuttal.

Much appreciation is due to the freelance writers who took time out of their schedules to show up at the hearing and support Me. Goulet’s efforts. Especially David Homel, who was there much of the time. Unlike the lawyers on the other side, none of us were being paid to be there.

Now the case goes under advisement, and we can do nothing but wait for Judge Eva Petras’ decision as to whether the class action goes ahead. We’ll let you know at the earliest possible opportunity. As Judge Petras said, summing up, “it’s not quite so easy.”

ERDC Fall 2007 Update

Dear Friends

The ERDC is still struggling away, although at the beginning of the summer we had hoped that we might have some good news about a settlement by this time.  Sadly, we don’t.

As you probably remember, in early spring our lawyer Me. Mireille Goulet met twice with lawyers for the defendants (revised list: Montreal Gazette Group, CanWest Global Communications, Hollinger Canadian Publishing Holdings, CanWest Interactive, Southam and Southam Business Communications, Infomart Dialog and Cedrom-SNI) to discuss the possibility of a settlement to our class action. The proposal asked for $25 million to be shared among several subclasses as well as contracts with fair compensation for electronic rights and explicit recognition that copyright remains with freelance writers.

In mid-July we received a reply from Me. Malcolm McLeod on behalf of the defendants, which offered $100,000. This was disappointing, to say the least, but the ERDC executive carefully considered its response. After a conference call in August, the executive agreed that Me Goulet should reply by politely rejecting the “offer” but saying that we are open to discussion in the future when the other side is ready to present a “reasonable” settlement.

In parallel with this, since early spring Me Goulet has been working toward getting a Court date for the authorization of the class action: all parties must agree on the date and doing this is not an easy matter. We are now waiting for the Court to set up the three days of hearings. The earliest dates possible seem to be in February, 2008. We’ll let you know when we have received them from the Court.

Best wishes

Mary Soderstrom, Chair
Jack Ruttan, secretary

ERDC Spring Progress Report

Greetings, Electronic Rights Defence Committee (ERDC) members and supporters.

A group of ERDC stalwarts heard the latest news about our case against Southam, the Montreal Gazette and their legal successors at the ERDC Annual General Meeting Wednesday March 23, 2005. Then we all relaxed over wine and good things to eat in Merrily Weisbord’s pleasant dining room.

The news of the last year is:

  • David Homel has been officially accepted as class representative in the case against The Montreal Gazette, Southam and its legal successors, replacing David Fennario, who had to bow out due to ill health.
  • Lawyers for the defendants have extensively cross examined David Homel.The case has been enlarged to include the corporations which are the legal successors to Southam, so we are now petitioning Southam Inc, CEDROM-SNI Inc, Infomart Dialog Ltd., Southam Business Communications Inc., Montreal Gazette Group Inc., Canwest Global Communications Corporation, Hollinger Canadian Publishing Holdings Inc. and Canwest Interactive Inc. To do this has required some delays in court proceedings, but the ERDC executive committee decided the delay was worth it. To win a case against Southam, which is not much more than a legal fiction after several industry sales and mergers, would be a hollow victory.
  • The stage is being set for a hearing on the admissibility of the action. We expect the date for it to be set this spring . At the hearing we will invite a large delegation of writers to be present in court, in order to show our solidarity with David Homel.
  • But Quebec’s Fonds d’Aide aux recours collectifs (FARC) which assists class action law suits in the province, has said it will provide no more funding for our case until a date is set for the hearing on authorization. That means we can expect no more financial help from them until next fall. Therefore, because we will need several thousand dollars for various disbursements in the next few months, we have launched a fundraising campaign.

You’ll find attached the documents we sent out as part of this campaign. Please help us out with a financial donation by sending your cheque to:

The Electronic Rights Defence Committee,
c/o Ron Diamond, Treasurer
995 Wellington #238
Montreal, QC H3C 1V3

And finally the ERDC executive was re-elected: Mary Soderstrom, president; Ron Diamond, treasurer; Jack Ruttan, secretary; and Ann Charney, Merrily Weisbord, and Stuart Robertson, members-at-large.

Jack Ruttan, ERDC Secretary, for
Mary Soderstrom, ERDC Chair

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