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Plans for Movie Complex at Mall End Bitterly : Lawsuit: A much-heralded venture between AMC Theaters and a nonprofit group disintegrates into litigation. Meanwhile, Magic Johnson's company plans to go ahead with its own project.

August 29, 1993|SCOTT SHIBUYA BROWN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was Drummond, the suit contends, who withheld operating information from Lombard and froze him out of Inner City Cinemas' decision-making process shortly before Lombard discovered that Economic Resources had debts that would affect its running of the joint venture.

Lombard, who the suit says was fired by Drummond in February after he took his findings to ERC's Board of Directors, now works for Magic Johnson's Johnson Development Corp.--the company now in line to set up and operate the movie complex at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. He declined comment on the litigation.

AMC's suit, though, paints a picture of Inner City Cinemas as a ship adrift with no one at the helm. According to the theater chain's complaint, Drummond showed up only briefly at the joint venture's offices, a trait shared by his son-in-law, Andre Todd, whom Drummond hired as Inner City Cinemas' theater manager.

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AMC's suit says that during a three-month period from November, 1992, to February, 1993, Lombard attempted to contact Todd at least once a day at either the Baldwin or Hawthorne theaters but was continually unable to reach him. Lombard later was told by another Inner City Cinemas executive that Todd was unreachable because "he had a lot of other things going on," according to the suit. Later, AMC contends, Todd admitted to Lombard that he was operating an Amway distributorship in addition to working for the joint venture.

According to AMC's suit, it is unclear whether Lombard or Drummond are still working for Inner City Cinemas. Though both apparently have been fired from the joint venture, Inner City Cinemas bylaws provide that only the Board of Directors can remove its officers. At present, AMC says it has not yet been informed whether Lombard or Drummond are still affiliated with the joint venture.

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