CAR WASH CHARGES: L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo filed criminal charges against the owners and executives of four car washes in the Hollywood area, alleging multiple violations of labor laws. The 176-count criminal complaint against car wash owners Benny and Nissan Pirian, and manager Manuel Reyes alleges that workers were paid below state and federal minimum wage levels, not paid for overtime, and discouraged from taking meal and rest breaks. Owners and managers also are accused of routinely harassing employees who were trying to form a union.
STEAMING UP: Southern California Edison signed contracts with Google-backed startup BrightSource Energy Inc. for the supply of 1,300 megawatts of clean solar thermal power. The companies claim the agreement is the world's largest solar deal. Edison, a unit of Rosemead-based Edison International, said the 20-year deal calls for Oakland-based BrightSource to build seven projects. The deal will require approval from the
California Public Utilities Commission.
HOSPITALS SOLD: Tenet Healthcare Corp. signed a definitive agreement to sell USC University Hospital and USC Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital to USC for $275 million. The sale means that Dallas-based Tenet and the university will drop all lawsuits against each other. USC had filed a lawsuit seeking to terminate its relationship with Tenet and Tenet had filed a counterclaim. The parties said last year that they would negotiate a sale.
New Coverage: Anthem Blue Cross, the state's largest for-profit health insurer, has agreed to pay a $1 million fine and offer new coverage to 2,330 people it dropped after they submitted bills for expensive medical care. As part of the settlement negotiated with the California Department of Insurance, Anthem also will offer to reimburse those people for medical expenses they paid out of pocket after they were dropped. Thousand-Oaks based Anthem, a subsidiary of Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc., estimated that those reimbursements could reach $14 million.
ZENITH LAYOFFS: Zenith National Insurance Corp. said it will cut 100 positions, the equivalent of 6 percent of its work force, in response to the economic downturn that has trickled down to its main workers' compensation business amid other companies' job cuts. The Woodland Hills-based property casualty insurer said it will take a charge of about $3.3 million in the first quarter for the reductions. The company expects cost savings of $6.5 million from the staff cuts.
WATER CONSERVATION: Water use restrictions proposed by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa could slam local building owners, gardeners and plant nursery operators. In the most sweeping restrictions in 30 years, Villaraigosa wants to limit outdoor watering to just two days a week Monday and Thursday and sharply raise water rates when customers exceed thresholds. Violators face fines of up to $600, with water shutoffs possible after five violations. The outdoor watering restrictions would apply to residential and commercial addresses, and to most outdoor landscaping.
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