LA Times’ Billionaire Owner Buys a Hospital. Next Day, CA Supreme Court Tosses My Case.

Am I a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic? Legally, maybe.

Reversing direction unexpectedly, the California Supreme Court has decided NOT to hear my defamation and wrongful termination lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times,  billionaire publisher Austin Beutner, and parent company Tribune Publishing, which at the time of my firing was owned in large part by the Los Angeles Police Department pension fund.

Adding to the confusion, the Court decertified the Court of Appeals ruling against me. This means that, while I will soon be ordered to pay close to $1 million to the LA Times for their legal bills defending themselves from lying about me in two articles, I can take comfort in the fact that Rall v. LA Times will not be used to screw over other journalists under California’s anti-SLAPP statute. My case cannot be used as a precedent. It’s sort of like Bush v. Gore.

You are welcome, California journalists. You are safe.

Why did the court make the decision they made? There’s no way to tell. They issued a pair of trite phrases: “Petition for review denied; CA opinion decertified.” After five years and thousands of pages of opinions and blood and sweat and tears, that’s all she wrote.

It is possible that, as a friend of mine speculated this evening, the court didn’t want to sanction a disruptive decision against a major newspaper at a time when dozens of newspapers are going out of business every day.

What is interesting is the timing.

A few weeks ago, the California Supreme Court signaled to my attorneys that it planned to kick my case down the road for at least several months due to the COVID-19 epidemic and the closure of California courts.

Then, yesterday, the current owner of the LA Times, biotech billionaire Dr. Pat Soon-Shiong, made headlines by announcing his intention to buy a closed Los Angeles hospital for the purpose of treating coronavirus patients. $135 million dollars buys a lot of good will at a time like this.

The very next day, my case went away. Coincidence? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Who knows?

My attorneys and I are exploring next steps. I will keep you posted.


  • But that slimeball billionaire doctor already ran Verity into the ground. I used to work at O’Connor Hospital, when it was part of Daughters of Charity small chain of Calif. hospitals. Then the sisters said they could no longer run the chain it was losing too much money. They found a hedge fund to buy it, however, Attorney General Kamala Harris blocked the sale due to objections from hospital unions(mostly). Then Verity hedge fund bought the chain. Then they ran it into the ground. First, St Vincent’s closed, then Seton was threatening to close. At least O’Connor had been sold to Santa Clara County at that point. These were hospitals that treated the poorest patients and were not profitable. All these hospitals should have been sold to their respective county health systems in the first place.

  • Now Seton is being run by the state for COVID-19 response. I might be wrong about the 1st proposed sale of DoC chain, maybe it was a for-profit chain, but the 2nd sale that went through definitely was a hedge fund.
    Maybe Ted needs to flee to France now?

    • And I should add, talking to my former coworkers who stayed through the now 3 ownership changes, it has been a very stressful time for them. They had to reapply for their jobs, the county required my coworkers who learned on the job to take tests, get certified in medical records which is a hardship for veteran workers in the medical records dept. And of course the stress of the ownership changes before the county took over.

  • And then there was that recent survey of 1,002 Americans taken by The Hill/HarrisX, 57% of respondents said they believe the political system serves the interests of the wealthy and powerful versus 32% who said it works for all Americans.
    Wow, the St Vincent sale definitely is a great example of unbridled greed of the LA wealthy and powerful.

  • alex_the_tired
    April 1, 2020 9:27 PM

    Jesus, Ted. I simply cannot believe it. Words just fail me. I am sickened to read this. I hope there is still some sort of super-final last resort left.

  • You are welcome, California journalists. You are safe.

    Well, Ted, as I’m sure you very well know, neither California journalists nor California cartoonists are safe. The same goes, alas, for the rest of your country – and, indeed, the world….



    profile of the Foundation

    they are part of the Giving Pledge, to assuage their guilt over making millions exploiting people?

  • That sucks wildly, if unsurprisingly!!!

    I’d suggest that the purchase of the hospital was less the critical issue than previous (and promised) “assistance,” by both the LA Times and the LA PD, to justices facing retention elections.