Dispute Between Apria Healthcare, Ex-Official Settled : Ouster: Company had been sued for $7 million by a former president of one of its predecessor firms, who claimed wrongful termination.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Apria Healthcare Group Inc. and Victor M.G. Chaltiel, a former president of one of Apria's predecessor firms, said Tuesday that they have settled a bitter dispute over his ouster 20 months ago.

Chaltiel's lawsuits sought $7 million for wrongful termination and defamation, but neither side would disclose details of the secret settlement Tuesday. Chaltiel's lawyer, R. Randall Huff, said his client is pleased with the result.

It was unclear whether the settlement, reached during arbitration proceedings, would have a material impact on the newly formed Apria. The home health services company was created at the end of June in the merger of Abbey Healthcare Group Inc. and Homedco Group Inc.

An Apria spokeswoman would not comment on the settlement beyond a brief press release both sides issued jointly.

Chaltiel had become president and chief executive of Abbey in November, 1993, after it paid $195 million to acquire his company, Total Pharmaceuticals in Torrance. He charged that Abbey used "heavy-handed, bad-faith tactics" to terminate his contract and push him out after barely two months on the job.

In July, 1994, Abbey accused Chaltiel of misrepresenting facts about his company before the sale and wrongly pocketing $67,000 in expense money three days before he was fired Jan. 27, 1994. The company said he wasn't entitled to $1.2 million in severance pay. A month later, it fired several executives who were part of Chaltiel's management team.

Chaltiel now runs Total Renal Care Holdings Inc. in Torrance, which owns and operates 61 kidney dialysis centers in 10 states and provides acute hemodialysis service to patients at 54 hospitals.

By the end of last year, Abbey was involved in another messy effort to dismiss a successor president, Jerilyn Asher, amid concerns about larger problems at the company. After a high-level meeting, though, Asher agreed to leave earlier this year.

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