Contractor to Press Hollywood Park

Times Staff Writer

An attorney for a subcontractor that is suing two Hollywood Park companies said Tuesday that his client expects to file involuntary bankruptcy proceedings against the race track next week.

"My client is very serious about being paid for work done," said James McGee of Newport Beach, who represents Kettering & Krussman, Inc., a concrete contractor. "We don't know whether Hollywood Park's insolvent or not."

Vernon O. Underwood, chairman of the board of Hollywood Park Operating Co., said last week that the track is not having money problems, and Neil Papiano, an attorney for the track, repeated that Tuesday.

"Rumors have been circulating that we're having money trouble, but it's not a question of that at all," Papiano said. "One way to tell if a company's having money trouble is when it cuts the dividend. That hasn't been talked about at all, and in fact there's been some talk about increasing the dividend."

Kettering & Krussman filed suit against Hollypark in Orange County Superior Court Feb. 11, seeking $441,233 in unpaid bills. Others named in the suit were Turner Construction Co., the general contractor for a $30-million improvement program at the track, and Security Pacific National Bank.

The Kettering & Krussman suit and property liens against Hollywood Park total almost $8 million.

McGee said that Kettering did about $4.5-million worth of work at the track but is still owed the balance listed in the suit. Papiano said last week that Hollywood hasn't paid many bills because it is unhappy with some of the work done at the track.

"It's our understanding that Hollywood Park's main problem is with the design of their new pavilion," McGee said. "The design should have nothing to do with the surface work that my client did. This work was finished four months ago, and there has been no complaint about any of it. The money we're still seeking represents what profit Kettering & Krussman would derive from the job."

McGee said that he would need the support of another of Hollywood Park's creditors to file for involuntary bankruptcy against the track but believes he will be able to obtain one.

"The purpose is to attach the track's assets," McGee said. "It's a novel legal move, but it's been done before with sports franchises. I believe it was done against some of the teams in the World Football League."

Said Papiano: "If Kettering & Krussman hadn't been paid a dime, I would agree with them suing. But they've received most of their money. When you get into the area of asking somebody to fix a job that wasn't done right in the first place, everybody starts pointing the finger at everybody else. That's the reason we've stopped paying everybody, until we get it straightened out."

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