LA Times sues OC Register over delivery fees

AP News
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Posted: Oct 14, 2014 9:13 PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Times filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Orange County Register over what the Times says is breach of contract and failure to pay more than $2 million in delivery fees.

The lawsuit alleges that the Register breached a contract that called for the Times to deliver the Orange County Register and the now-defunct Los Angeles Register.

The Register owes the Times at least $2.464 million, the lawsuit said, and total damages could exceed $4 million. The Times said the Register has been late on payments since falling behind in April 2013, and the Times informed the Register last month that it was in default and had 30 days to pay.

The Times terminated the deal earlier this month, alleging the Register switched to alternative vendors and violated the Times' "exclusive right to deliver" the paper (http://lat.ms/1yB334o ).

Phone and email messages seeking comment from a Register spokesman were not immediately returned.

But the Register's owner Aaron Kushner said in an email to the Times last week that it had "refused to guarantee uninterrupted delivery for our paper."

"We were left with no choice but to transition to a new delivery service," Kushner told the Times.

The lawsuit was filed the day after the Register announced the hiring of former casino executive Richard Mirman to be its interim publisher and chief executive. Mirman will take over for Kushner, who will remain principal owner and CEO of the Register's parent company, Freedom Communications Inc. Kushner's co-owner, Eric Spitz, will also remain with Freedom.

The lawsuit comes amid a string of financial struggles for Freedom Communications, which last month shut down the Los Angeles Register, a would-be competitor for the Times, just five months after it began publication. The company has also gone through a series of employee buyouts and layoffs.