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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Lake View Terrace

$1.35-Million Settlement for Equestrian Center Head

October 22, 1998|JILL LEOVY

Closing the book on an 8-year-old dispute, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a $1.35-million lawsuit settlement for Eddie Milligan, the outspoken president of the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center.

Milligan runs the equestrian center as a concession for the city. In his lawsuit, he claimed that delays in signing the agreement cost him long-term sublicensing agreements, said Marcia Kamine, assistant city attorney.

Kamine said the delays were because of additional studies of the site called for by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which had leased the land to the city.

"We started to negotiate the concession, but the corps wanted to do some environmental impact studies. . . . Meanwhile, [Milligan] was developing the property," Kamine said.

Milligan remains skeptical of this explanation, and blamed "personality conflicts" for the delays.

He has said that he made more than $3 million worth of improvements to the property without a long-term concession agreement. In all, he had claimed damages of $23.7 million, including those stemming from lost business opportunities.

The council approved the settlement by a 9-1 vote. Councilman Rudy Svorinich voted no.

"I'm happy, I've got a smile on my face," said Milligan, reached at the equestrian center Wednesday. "It's time to go on with my life."

Kamine said the city is considering taking action to recover costs from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Asked if he would also consider legal action against the corps, Milligan said, "No comment."

The city in 1996 completed negotiations on the concession agreement, and Milligan now has long-term rights to continue operating the facility.

Despite the long-running legal battle, Kamine said the equestrian center has been a success--to Milligan's credit.

"It's a wonderful facility, quite beautiful," she said.

Milligan professed to have no regrets. Although he still believes he was wronged, he enjoys running the center. "I love it, I love losing a lot of money," he said jokingly.

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