HOSPITAL SETTLES: College Hospitals, which runs psychiatric hospitals in Cerritos and Costa Mesa, has agreed to pay $1.6 million in penalties and charitable contributions over accusations that it sent more than 150 patients to L.A.'s Skid Row over a two-year period. The deal, the largest settlement yet in the city's campaign against patient dumping, was announced by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.
RENTAL MARKET: The latest USC Casden Forecast reports that the average residential rent in Los Angeles County fell almost 4 percent in 2008 as apartment occupancy rates dropped and new units came online. The average one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles rented for $1,397 a month at the end of last year. The study said the decline will continue this year as homes prices fall, enabling more renters to buy, and other renters lose their jobs and move in with family or friends. Rents should level out in 2010 as the economy recovers, the study predicted.
LAYOFFS: Walt Disney Co., the world's largest theme-park operator, said it has eliminated about 1,900 jobs from its Anaheim and Orlando, Fla., resorts as part of a reorganization announced in February. The Burbank entertainment company, which employs 80,000 in its U.S. parks division, cut 1,200 salaried workers and 700 unfilled salaried positions. Those numbers include 50 people who took voluntary buyouts in January.
DEVELOPMENT PROGRESS: L.A. developer Rick Caruso said he has reached a settlement with neighbors of the historic Miramar Hotel in Montecito that should clear the way for turning the property into an upscale resort. Caruso Affiliated bought the property in 2007 and wants to build 192 luxury rooms, three restaurants, a spa, a beach club and a boardwalk at the site of the old seaside resort. In return for Caruso's cooperation on drainage and other problems in the area, the neighbors will drop their state environmental lawsuit and an appeal to the California Coastal Commission.
TRUSTEE SUES: The trustee handling the Chapter 7 bankruptcy of Axium International Inc. has sued two former top officials of the defunct Burbank entertainment industry payroll firm, alleging years of mismanagement and misappropriation of corporate assets after the company changed hands in 2002. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles, seeks tens of millions of dollars in damages from John Visconti, the company's chief executive, and Ronald Garber, former chief operating officer.
TICKET PROBLEM: Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. confirmed that it has received demands for information from the U.S. Justice Department and other government agencies investigating the company's reselling of concert tickets. The West Hollywood company told ticket brokers who use the company's TicketsNow Web site that it had received subpoenas or other demands for information from the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission, among others. The investigations focus on complaints that Ticketmaster diverted tickets to its reselling subsidiary, which could then sell them for higher prices.
HAT IN RING: Businessman and L.A. designer Georges Marciano announced his candidacy for governor of California, joining a growing number of hopefuls wanting to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who terms out in 2010. Marciano, best known as the co-founder of Guess Inc., will run as an independent for the state's top job because he wants to avoid the "current political machine."
CONTRACTOR SETTLEMENT: Northrop Grumman Corp. agreed to pay $325 million to resolve allegations it provided and billed the National Reconnaissance Office for defective military satellite parts. The Justice Department said its investigation found that the L.A. defense contractor and TRW Inc., which Northrop acquired in 2002, failed to properly test certain parts made by TRW between 1992 and 2002. As a result, the companies placed certain defective parts into U.S. military satellite equipment.
MORE LAYOFFS: Capstone Turbine Corp. said that it has eliminated an additional 22 professional positions. After reporting a wider third quarter loss, the Chatsworth microturbine maker laid off 19 employees in February and canceled 16 open positions. The new reductions bring the company's head count to 212.
MERGER DELAY: Image Entertainment Inc. and Nyx Acquisition Inc., the San Francisco private equity company that wants to buy it, signed a third amendment to their merger agreement. Nyx now has until April 20 to complete financing of the $100 million deal, of which more than $60 million is cash and the rest assumption of debt. Instead of adding to a now $2.5 million escrow account, Nyx is paying $1 million directly to the Chatsworth home entertainment company that can be used for general corporate purposes.
EARNINGS: Cherokee Inc. reported fourth quarter net income of $2.38 million, 15 percent lower than a year ago. Royalty revenue for the apparel licensing company fell 30 percent to $6.12 million.
An article in the April 6 edition headlined "Audits Home In on Real Estate" incorrectly stated Preferred Bank had disputed an audit and real estate appraisal conducted by KPMG. A third party performed the disputed appraisal and Preferred said it did not dispute KPMG's audit.
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An item in the Trade and Transport column in the April 6 issue should have said that of 50 light rail cars ordered by the Metropolitan Transit Authority from AnsaldoBreda Inc., 21 have been delivered. Seventeen have been conditionally accepted despite being heavier than preferred and the other four, also considered heavy, are being tested. The remaining cars are scheduled to be delivered by summer 2010.
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The Featured Newsmaker story in the April 6 issue was published with an inaccurate headline. The headline should have read "Financial Services Exec Headed South for Career in L.A."
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