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SAM ZELL GETS SUED: Sam Zell has faced more than a few hurdles since taking over The Tribune Co., but nothing was more unexpected than a lawsuit filed against Zell by current and former Tribune employees on Tuesday in Los Angeles. The lawsuit states that, “This case is about a corporate takeover done through a series of carefully manipulated complex financial transactions involving an Employee Stock Ownership Plan. Rather than acquire and operate the Tribune Company in the best interests of its employee-owners, Sam Zell exacted severe, long-lasting damage to an institution that citizens in a democracy rely on and require to effectively speak truth to power.” Moreover, since completing his takeover in December 2007, the suit states Zell’s irresponsible actions and public statements — such as those zany press releases — has damaged the reputation and business of the company. The plaintiffs are seeking to recover all losses to the Tribune Employee Stock Ownership Plan and company caused by Zell and other executives’ “breaches of fiduciary duties.” They also want removal of all defendants from their fiduciary positions as well as removal of the board. A spokesman for Tribune said, “we have not read the lawsuit and will decline comment.” — A.W.