Lawsuit returns against owners of State Theater in Portland
PORTLAND — An attorney for a former State Theater tenant said a lawsuit between his client and the owner of the theater is gaining momentum.
Attorney Dan Skolnik said this week that the 3-year-old suit, which has been dormant since 2007 – along with the theater – has come back to life now that a concert promoter has signed an affidavit supporting his client's claim.
Chris Morgan, Skolnik's client, signed a lease to run the State Theater on Congress Street in 2005. The theater is owned by Stone Coast Properties; Grant Wilson is the company's principal. Morgan ran the theater for about seven months, but could not make enough to pay the $10,000 monthly rent.
Wilson filed a lawsuit in Portland District Court in February 2006, seeking eviction of Morgan and breach of contract. Stone Coast is seeking $40,000 plus interest for the breach, plus $12,000 for removal of some chairs.
Morgan agreed to the eviction, Skolnik said, but only because he thought a new deal was going to be worked out for the theater.
Morgan in a counterclaim accused Wilson of misrepresentation, fraud and breach of contract. According to the counterclaim, Morgan was told by Wilson that the theater's capacity was 300 more than was actually allowed by the city. Skolnik said Morgan found out only when the city fire inspectors visited the building. He was also told the balcony and fire escape were unsafe and needed to be replaced.
Skolnik, who is a city councilor, said because the capacity was really 1,450 and not the 1,750 Morgan was told it was by the building owner, Morgan could not make a profit.
"Three hundred seats, that's the difference between profit and loss," Skolnik said. "A lot of the gigs already scheduled became automatic losers, so (Morgan) started pulling out and couldn't pay rent."
Wilson filed the eviction suit in March 2006. Morgan countered in April 2006. At that time he was represented by Roger Katz.
Skolnik said he took over in 2007. The court recently set a June 1 deadline for discovery.
Live Nation Vice President Robert Duteau recently signed an affidavit citing Wilson's "inconsistent behavior during that time," according to Skolnik, who would not supply a copy of the affidavit to The Forecaster.
Skolnik said he plans to apply for an extended deadline for discovery and also to move the case the Superior Court.