Gnomish asshole Tribune owner Sam Zell is getting sued. By his own (current and former) employees! They filed a class action suit in LA today charging that "Zell's illegal and irresponsible actions and public statements have damaged the reputation and business of the company." Which is legalese for "You made all the Tribune employees take ownership of this shitty company under your stupid ESOP plan and we'd rather not all go broke, thanks." We imagine Zell is uttering some colorful expressions right now in response. ("Fuck you!" is what we mean specifically). This should be interesting! Click through for the full press release.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 Los Angeles, CA-A class action complaint CV08-06040 was filed today against Samuel Zell, the Tribune Company, and others in U.S. District Court, Central District of California, by Joseph Cotchett and Philip Gregory of the law firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy on behalf of Dan Neil, Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize winning auto critic; Corie Brown, former Los Angeles Times wine and food writer; Henry Weinstein, founding faculty member of UC Irvine School of Law and former Los Angeles Times legal affairs writer; Myron Levin, former Los Angeles Times consumer affairs writer; Walter Roche Jr., former Los Angeles Times writer; and Jack Nelson former Los Angeles Times Washington, D.C. bureau chief on behalf of themselves and other members of a class consisting of current and former employees of the Tribune Company who have rights under the Tribune Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) or various Tribune retirement plans. The complaint alleges that since completing his takeover of the Tribune Company in December 2007, Sam Zell's illegal and irresponsible actions and public statements have damaged the reputation and business of the company he purports to want to preserve. According to the filed complaint, through both the structure of his takeover and his subsequent conduct, Zell and his accessories have diminished the value of the employee-owned company to benefit himself and his fellow board members. It alleges further that through their destructive management and self-dealings at the expense of employees, Zell and his co-fiduciaries have repeatedly breached their fiduciary duties to beneficiaries of the Tribune Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Plaintiffs seek to recover all losses to the Tribune ESOP and the company caused by Defendants' breaches of fiduciary duties. As well, Plaintiffs seek the removal of Defendants from their fiduciary positions and removal of the Tribune Board in its entirety for their ongoing dereliction of duties.

[via Romenesko]