Lawsuit filed against former contributor to Elk Grove Tribune by website's proprietor

UPDATED 7:30 p.m.  | 

A civil lawsuit has been filed in Sacramento Superior Court by the proprietor of the Elk Grove Tribune against a former contributor for the lifestyle website. 

The lawsuit, Jaqueline Cheung v. Sai Vang, 34-2021-00297791, was recorded on April 1, 2021. Cheung's lawsuit has ten complaints against Ms. Vang, including unfair business practices, trademark infringement, slander, libel, and emotional stress.

Cheung is described by her attorneys as the owner of "the award-winning Jax Chronicles Blog" and the sole proprietor of the Elk Grove Tribune. Vang was a contributor for Cheung until last July when she voluntarily separated from the website. 

At the center of the complaint, the filing acknowledges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cheung applied for a CARES Grant with the City of Elk Grove's Economic Development Department on September 1. On December 1, the Economic Development Department approved a grant to Cheung for $11,250 in CARES funding.

Following Cheung's receipt of the $11,250 grant, the lawsuit claims in January 2021, an unidentified employee of the City of Elk Grove's Economic Development Department contacted her asking if she had falsified her grant application. Cheung, the document says, denied the accusation.

The lawsuit states Cheung believes "Defendant Vang told one or more City of Elk Grove officials that plaintiff falsified in her CARES act application." Cheung denied these allegations, the lawsuit states.

Also, the lawsuit contents the Tribune's logo was stolen by Ms. Vang, who co-created a completing site called Elk Grove Times late last year that has a similar log. A trademark application for the Tribune logo is pending, according to the document. 

The lawsuit contends the use of the logo "is a blatant and intentional attempt to trade commercial goodwill and magnetism that the Elk Grove Tribune has built up..." Cheung also contents a story posted on Elk Grove Times regarding a separate lawsuit filed by Ms. Vang against her contained "inaccurate statements." 

It is claimed in the lawsuit the Times logo has infringed on the Tribune logo, which could potentially contribute to lost market share and reduction in profit. As a remedy, the Cheung "seeks an order from the Court prohibiting  Defendant Vang from engaging or continuing to engage in the unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business acts or practices set forth in this complaint."   

As a result of Vang's alleged actions, Cheung has suffered "emotional stress by: purposefully infringing on plaintiff's trademarks and tradename." Additionally, attorneys for Cheung content Vang posted "disparaging comments targeting Plaintiff on social media; making defamatory and disparaging remarks about Plaintiff and the Elk Grove Tribune to third parties; and by aiding, encouraging and/or persuading other individuals to stalk, follow, harass, and threaten Plaintiff and her family, to make threating [sic] phone calls to Plaintiff, to make disparaging remarks about Plaintiff during public City Council meetings, and to egg Plaintiffs house and car all while knowing that Plaintiff is suffering from cancer and the various procedures and treatments relating thereto." 

As relief, Cheung  seeks a jury trial and a judgment of "no less than $100,000." Cheung is represented by attorneys C. Jason Smith and Liah M. Burley of the Sacramento-based law firm Smith, McDowell & Powell. 

As of today, no response from Vang has been posted on the court's website. 

UPDATED - Below is the lawsuit. 

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Thank you EGN for reporting on Elk Grove's version of the Hatfield and McCoys! There are couple things in the article that made me do a double-take and almost choke on my quesadilla!

First, the Tribune's own description as "award-winning" is the best joke I've heard since Barry Broome told the City Council that "Seattle loves us".

In her own "blog", Editor Jax Cheung was voted Sacramento Area A-List Best Local Blogger 2014, 2015, 2017 & 2018 and Best of Elk Grove Best Blogger 2016 & 2017. In 2019 Jax was recognized for Outstanding Service & Dedication to Elk Grove and also received an Award of Recognition from the California State Senate.

No disrespect, but are all these awards based on journalistic achievements as recognized by her peers, or was it more like winning a popularity contest like class president or head cheerleader?

The other concerning claim is that Cheung secured an $11,250 CARES grant from the City under false pretenses. It will be interesting to see how that shakes out, but I notice the Tribune has quite an extensive bureaucratic structure: Editor-in-Chief; Executive Editor; two Acting Editor-in-Chiefs; five Staff Writers; two Photographers; Marketing Consultant; Social Media Specialist; five Contributing Staff Writers; Student Intern; Sports Writer, and a Partridge in a pear tree!

With all this blog firepower, I would expect the Tribune to give the Citizen a run for its money. But the latest news article I see posted on their site is "old news" dated three days ago. Now I see the one-man show Elk Grove News has posted two news articles today, and at least half a dozen since the Tribune posted their latest article.

I don't know about you, but from an efficiency standpoint (and CARES grant Return On Investment), the Tribune does not appear to be "award-winning" in my book. Keep up the good work Elk Grove News!

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