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Business litigation pits antique store against city council

Georgia business owners may be interested to know of a rather contentious proceeding taking place in the town of Louisiana in Missouri. There, the owners of a store called French Hen Antiques have been caught up in unexpected business litigation regarding the structural integrity of their building. So far, the owners have been ordered to pay more than $500 in court fees and fines. However, that is on top of being ordered to rehabilitate the building, which may cost more than $100,000.

The incident began over a year ago when the store next to theirs collapsed. The two stores had been located adjacent to each other, which left a wall in between that was designed to be an interior (not exterior) wall. Following the collapse of the other building, that wall was exposed to the elements. That has led authorities to claim the French Hen Antiques building is structurally unsound.

Reportedly, the city ordered the owners to correct designated issues, but only gave them 30 days to do so. During that time, the owners were supposed to deal with insurance issues and also settle who had liability for the exposed wall: French Hen Antiques or the owners of the store that collapsed. As anyone who has dealt with insurance companies knows, 30 days is hardly enough time resolve liability issues.

Not surprisingly, the owners missed the city council imposed deadline. As they struggle to deal with the situation, the city continues to send them more citations. This led to the more than $500 in court fees and fines. That does not include the cost of attorney's fees, as they have had to retain the advice of legal counsel. At the same time, they have filed suit against the owners of the collapsed store for breach of contract.

While it remains to be seen what the final result of the litigation will be, business owners in Georgia and elsewhere encountering similar issues may benefit from the advice of an experienced attorney. The attorney may work to ensure that the rights of the business are not violated. He or she may also seek an amicable resolution that both protects the rights of the property owner and provides for the continued operation of the business.

Source: The Peoples Tribune, "French Hen Ordered To Pay Fines On Dangerous Building," April M. Fronick, Oct. 11, 2011

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