LA Times Wins $4.2M Lien Against Register

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Los Angeles Times has secured a $4.2 million lien in its legal dispute with rival Orange County Register over millions of dollars in unpaid delivery fees.
     Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin granted Los Angeles Times Communications an order for a writ of attachment for O.C. Register Communications’ property in the amount of $4,236,300.86, after the Times claimed that the Register failed to pay $2.5 million in delivery fees.
     Lavin’s March 12 order allows the Times to enter a prejudgment lien on the Register’s assets until the case is resolved in court. Register assets covered by the order include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, securities, brokerage accounts, and real property.
     After the Times filed suit last year, the Register responded with a $8.5 million counterclaim in January, accusing the “bully up north” of attempting to sabotage the newspaper.
     Two days before Lavin’s order, Register owner Aaron Kushner resigned his position as CEO and chairman of the newspaper’s parent company, Freedom Communications, the Times reported.
     A named defendant in the case, Kushner touted a bright future for the Register after Freedom Communications took over the paper in 2012.
     “I do not believe the future of newspapers has to be a negative one,” Kushner said in 2013. “I believe that there is a future for newspapers where they grow.”
     But the Register’s fortunes quickly nosedived.
     Kushner’s Los Angeles Register folded within five months of publication. The Long Beach Register shared the same fate.
     After the Times filed suit, Freedom announced a round of layoffs.
     Last September, Freedom Communications sold the Register’s offices to a developer for $27 million, the Times reported. The buyer leased the building back to the publisher.
     “I was rooting for him, but much in the way you’d be rooting for Captain Smith to succeed in saving the Titanic after it hit the iceberg,” media consultant Gordon Borrell told the Times. “It appeared to be one poor decision after another.”
     Kushner, a former greeting card executive, stepped down as publisher after the Register’s dismal year drew to a close. Las Vegas casino marketer Rich Mirman took his place as the paper’s principal publisher.
     Kushner’s partner Eric Spitz also resigned as president of Freedom Communications. Mirman is now Freedom Communications’ president and CEO. Kushner remains an investor in Freedom Communications, while Spitz will reportedly stay on as company chairman.
     Freedom Communications declined to comment. Los Angeles Times’ parent Tribune Publishing did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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