The scene was quintessential federal courtroom craziness as more than 100 investors and creditors of Doerring & Associates gathered Thursday to hear the first report of court-appointed "disbursing agent" John Lennon since he took over the troubled real estate investment firm in December.
Tension ran high as the attorneys for the investors seemed well prepared and equally eager to let loose their anger on Lennon and his attorney, Donald McGrath, and uncover what really happened at Doerring.
The company has been accused by regulators of fraud and securities violations for allegedly misappropriating as much as $4 million in limited partnership trust funds.
Despite appearances, however, this was not a typical company-gone-bad court hearing.
Many of the attorneys in this case also happen to be Doerring investors, and their decisions about how to handle the case have so far been quite different than they might have been if the lawyers weren't personally involved, according to sources familiar with the case.
The most glaring difference may be that, in most situations, investors and creditors could have banded together to force Doerring into bankruptcy. Any three creditors can force an involuntary bankruptcy, but most of the participants in Thursday's hearing spoke profusely on how such a move would only harm the investors' financial positions.
In fact, McGrath made a strong pitch for keeping the case under the auspices of U.S. District Judge Edward J. Schwartz rather than the "crowded bankruptcy court," where the parties would not have easy access to the judge.
Not all parties believe they have had access under the current setup. Several attorneys complained that they were not notified of the Thursday hearing, and knew of it only through newspaper accounts. Schwartz settled the debate by insisting that McGrath and Lennon send out timely notices of future meetings.
Hotel-Motel Assn. Checks Back In
The Hotel-Motel Assn. will try to boost its image among the press and government officials with a hosted cocktail reception next week at the Hotel Inter-Continental.
The event is a first for the association, which flexed its political muscle two years ago when it took on Convention & Visitors Bureau officials by demanding more hotel representation on the bureau's board of directors.
Since then, however, the association has been relatively silent, in part because of lack of staff power. In fact, former executive director Warren Swil has virtually disappeared and local hotel officials say they have been unable to find him for months.
Executive Changes Mind in Mid-Flight
Companies like to tout their new executives but, sometimes, it can be a tad embarrassing.
Take PSA's recent announcement that William Smith had been hired as vice president of sales.
True enough. Problem was that Smith, who was vice president and general sales manager of Sitmar Cruise Lines, decided at the last minute--and after PSA's press release went out--that he wanted to remain at his old job.
A Happy Landing in Coronado
The "For Sale" sign officially goes out next month at The Landing, the $88-million, 196-unit luxury condominium complex on Coronado that was destroyed by fire in November, 1984.
So far, there are about three dozen reservations for the units, which sit on 7.5 acres of waterfront land where the Coronado Ferry Landing once stood. (Hence, the name.)
Despite the blaze, which caused $8 million in damage and forced construction to restart from scratch, the project is progressing in "excellent" fashion, The Landing's developer says.
"We anticipate first occupancy in late spring," according to Joe David, president of Watt Industries, developer of the project. Prices of the units range from $240,000 to $605,000, Davis said.