Companies look to recover $2.1M

Three companies controlled by billionaire developer Rick Caruso are looking to recover at least $2.1 million from a maintenance company for allegedly failing to pay its legal fees stemming from a water-damage claim filed by a restaurant formerly located in the Americana at Brand.

The Caruso-controlled companies claim that Able Maintenance breached its contracts when it performed substandard cleaning services at the Americana, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The lawsuit also alleges Able failed to defend the companies — essentially providing no defense — in a legal matter filed by Caffe Primo restaurant. Three insurance companies were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The companies claim they have spent at least $2.1 million, which allegedly hasn’t been reimbursed, in defending themselves as well as Abel in the lawsuit.

Requests for a comment from Able Maintenance were not returned.

Attorney Ethan Brown, representing the Caruso-controlled companies, declined to comment about the lawsuit.

The legal saga began in 2010 after Caffe Primo’s management filed suit against Caruso’s companies and the Americana, claiming the restaurant had suffered severe water damage.

Staff initially noticed the restaurant’s hardwood floor was buckling. Soon after, the floor was replaced.

A short time later, the floors were damaged again.

Apparently, workers with Able Maintenance didn’t use waterproof covers to protect the restaurant’s entrance during stream and pressure washing, which allegedly was a violation of the company’s agreement with the Americana, according to the latest lawsuit.

But Caffe Primo wasn’t the only tenant that complained about the water leak.

The companies’ lawsuit alleges at least one other tenant also noticed the floor inside their business was buckling.

In 2012, a jury awarded $1.4 million to Caffe Primo due to the negligent pressure washing.

But the Caruso companies allege Able, which they defended in the Primo lawsuit, hasn’t paid any legal fees and hasn’t committed to help cover the judgment award.

During the initial lawsuit, Caruso’s companies filed a counter-complaint against Caffe Primo for unpaid rent. The companies were successful in their counter-complaint and were granted a $1.25-million judgment.

The judgment is currently being appealed.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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