In a statement on Friday, Dr. Soon-Shiong disputed the characterization of how he had acted, calling it “factually incorrect.” The Los Angeles Times said in a statement that Dr. Soon-Shiong, who bought the newspaper in 2018, had made a request for “truthful, factual reporting” on the story.
In a note to staff this month, Mr. Merida said he had decided to step down after “considerable soul-searching about my career at this stage.” Dr. Soon-Shiong said at the time that it had been “mutually agreed” that Mr. Merida would leave.
Dr. Soon-Shiong’s confrontation with Mr. Merida over the unfinished article stemmed from work that a business reporter was doing on Dr. Gary Michelson, a California surgeon who made his fortune with medical patents, the three people with knowledge of the situation said.
The reporter was looking into dueling lawsuits that involved Dr. Michelson and accusations that his dog had bitten a woman at a Los Angeles park. In a suit filed by Dr. Michelson in May, he said the woman had tried to extort him. The woman filed a personal injury lawsuit against Dr. Michelson.
Dr. Michelson, who lives in Los Angeles, and Dr. Soon-Shiong belong to a small and rarefied group of medical professionals who have become billionaires through their innovations and investments. Dr. Soon-Shiong made his fortune in biotechnology. Both are philanthropists.