Family magazine publishers lock horns in Reno lawsuit |

Family magazine publishers lock horns in Reno lawsuit

John Seelmeyer

Executives of two Reno-based magazines that target families Washoe Family and Family Pulse are locked in a bitter court battle.

Bert Ramos, president of the nonprofit that owns Washoe Family, claims that principals of the company that previously produced the magazine paid themselves $36,000 that they didn’t deserve a claim that is hotly denied by the defendants.

Jackie Shelton, who formerly edited Washoe Family, and Joe Hansen, who spearheaded the magazine’s advertising sales, claim that they’re owed thousands of dollars by Ramos and say they turned around Washoe Family’s finances after it nearly sank 18 months ago.

The dispute blew up this winter, when Shelton and Hansen left Washoe Family and launched Family Pulse.

Washoe Family is mailed monthly to about 38,000 families of children who attend schools in Washoe County, and the magazine provides six pages of space a month to the school district in exchange for use of its mailing list.

In a claim filed in the district court for Washoe County, Ramos contends Hansen and Shelton wrote themselves checks for more than $36,000 from Washoe Family accounts late last year. Hansen and Shelton’s lawyer calls that contention “utterly false, reckless, malicious, oppressive and defamatory.”

Ramos contends, too, that Shelton and Hansen tried to sabotage Washoe Family’s relationship with the school district. The district cancelled its contract with Washoe Family in January but later backtracked.

Washoe Family “simply will not tolerate having its family magazine put out of business by defendants using illegal tactics,” says Terry Thomas, the lawyer for the magazine and a member of the board of the nonprofit, We Care About Kids, that owns the publication.

In their legal response, Shelton and Hansen say they met with school district officials only as a courtesy to let them know that they were leaving Washoe Family.

They say Ramos contracted with them to operate Washoe Family on a turnkey basis in mid-2006. They soon learned the magazine was at least $120,000 in debt and hadn’t been published on a monthly basis despite a commitment to the school district.

They say the new team got the magazine turned around, but Ramos contends the printer was owed $22,000 when he got involved in daily operations after the departure of Hansen and Shelton.

In court documents, Hansen claims Ramos owes him $95,000 for producing the magazine along with $28,000 still outstanding from a $35,000 loan he made to Washoe Family in 2006. Shelton says Ramos owes her $49,000.

Shelton and Hansen acknowledge some of the financial arrangements weren’t put on paper, but they say Ramos didn’t respond to repeated requests to formalize their deals.


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