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Palladium sues to remove curfew

The owners of the Hollywood Palladium filed a $ 50 million suit against the City of Los Angeles and the City Council yesterday in an attempt to lift its recently imposed curfew.

“We have made a concerted effort to work with the city on a plan that would allow the Palladium to stay open without a curfew, as well as one that will provide maximum security for our patrons,” said Larry Worchell, president of Palladium Investors Inc. “Instead of punishing criminals, the city is making the Palladium a scapegoat.”

The City Council imposed a curfew on the facility, limiting operating hours from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, to 10 p.m. on Sunday nights and from 10 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday (Daily Variety, Feb. 10).

The Palladium’s owners appealed the decision but said city officials’ refusal prompted them to file suit in L.A. Superior Court.

“Prohibiting the Palladium from operating during certain hours does not do anything in itself for security in the area,” noted attorney Donald P. Baker of Latham & Watkins, who is representing the Palladium’s owners. “It’s the adequacy of a security plan that is what is most important.”

Palladium owners feel they have a good security plan, having hired former LAPD deputy chief Daniel R. Sullivan to formulate one.

The City Council took its action to curb the Palladium’s hours after a rash of violence occurred at the historic ballroom, including a Christmas Day melee in which two teens were wounded by gunfire and another was stabbed.

However, Sullivan’s report, which also studied crime and arrest statistics in the area for 1991 and 1992, said there has been a steady decrease in arrests near the Palladium since the first quarter of 1991. The report noted many other areas within Hollywood have significantly higher crime and arrest rates.

Events are sporadically scheduled at the Palladium, but Baker said that within the next two months the site could close if the curfews are not lifted.

“With our security plan, we believe that closing the Palladium is not necessary,” Baker said.

City Attorney James Hahn’s office declined comment on the suit.

The Palladium opened in 1940 with a performance by Tommy Dorsey and at one time was home to champagne music fans tuning into “The Lawrence Welk Show.”

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