In a front-page message to readers this week, Boston Courant owners David Jacobs and Gen Tracy say they lost a wrongful-termination lawsuit by a former employee and that:
Given the legal fees and the amount of the judgment, it is no longer feasible for the paper to continue publishing.
What drove the paper out of business was a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed by Kevin Smith, whom the paper had hired in 2008 as vice president of sales, then fired the next year for not meeting revenue goals. At the time, Smith sought $242,000 in back pay.
Last month, the Massachusetts Appeals Court sided with Smith, saying he had been hired in part to sell ads on a Courant Web site and that the paper's decision to cancel plans for a Web site was the reason he couldn't meet his revenue goals. In its Dec. 9 ruling, the court wrote:
Our review of the record revealed sufficient evidence to support a finding that Courant's promise to provide a Web site was part of the agreement and that Courant materially breached the agreement by failing to provide the Web site after Smith began his employment.
The Courant had covered the Back Bay since 1995 and eventually added coverage of the South End, Fenway and downtown.