Farmers Loses Overtime Suit
An Alameda County Superior Court jury has ordered Los Angeles insurance giant Farmers Insurance Exchange to pay $90 million to claims adjusters who consistently worked overtime hours without receiving additional pay.
The judgment, believed to be the largest of its type, could exceed $130 million when interest and attorneys fees are added, a lawyer for the 2,400 plaintiffs said.
The large award, which Farmers has vowed to appeal, is likely to encourage more white-collar workers to file lawsuits demanding overtime and could prompt California employers to review their pay practices.
Luminent Slashes Workforce
Chatsworth-based Luminent Inc. announced that it would cut 600 jobs by the end of the year, one third of its workforce, due to lower demand for its fiber-optic components.
Luminent, which makes high-capacity data transmission products, will take a one-time charge of $30 million to $35 million in the second quarter to account for the cost of the layoffs and other restructuring expenses.
Cushman Sale Completed
New York-based Cushman & Wakefield Inc. has completed its acquisition of Los Angeles-based Cushman Realty Corp., absorbing 200 employees and 11 local offices. The combined entity creates one of Southern California’s largest commercial real estate brokers.
Financial details of the deal between the two privately held companies were not released, but the acquisition doubles Cushman & Wakefield’s brokerage staff to nearly 170 in Southern California. The combined company has more than 9,000 employees.
Squabble Over ‘AMG’
Michael Ovitz’s Artists Management Group is taking on an Irving, Texas sports marketing firm over who owns the rights to the initials “AMG.”
In late May, Artists Management Group sued Advantage Marketing Group in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to secure rights to the “AMG” trademark.
After negotiations between the two sides broke down, the Texas company last week filed a counter suit, claiming it has been using the AMG initials since 1985 and has built a successful franchise in the sports entertainment world.
Merrill Lynch Selling L.A. Unit
Merrill Lynch & Co. will sell part of its Los Angeles mutual fund unit to company executives and break up the rest of it.
The Los Angeles unit, had been on the market since last month when three members of the office’s international investing team left to launch their firm.
Warner Bros. Stores Closing
AOL Time Warner Inc. said it would close its 85 U.S.-based Warner Bros. Studio Stores by November, eliminating 3,800 jobs.
The company closed the struggling chain after failing to find a buyer, making good on a warning issued in January after completion of the $100 billion merger between America Online and Time Warner Inc.
The 3,800 jobs cut represent about 4 percent of the company’s 90,000 employees. The closings will not affect about 30 non-U.S. stores, which operate under separate franchising agreements.
Hahn Signs Business Tax Laws
Flanked by members of the Business Tax Advisory Committee and small business owners, Mayor James Hahn signed into law six business tax ordinances approved by the Los Angeles City Council in June.
Both small and large business owners have long pushed for tax relief in Los Angeles, and though the new ordinances won’t lower taxes they do address a variety of business concerns.
Among other things, the new ordinances create a tax amnesty that would allow businesses to pay outstanding bills without penalties, call for a Tax Settlement Bureau to speed up resolution of claims and streamline the administrative process for business tax assessments.