By Ray King
A hearing is set Jan. 15 in Second Division Circuit Court on a lawsuit filed by the owners of the Saracen Cinema 8 against owners of the Pines Mall, alleging among other things breach of contract.
Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt set the hearing for 9:30 a.m. and said the attendance is mandatory for the parties involved.
The notice of the hearing came with a third motion for summary judgment filed by Little Rock attorney Verona Swanigan, who represents Rain Investments, dba Saracen Cinema 8, owned by Steven Mays Jr., and Okorie Ezime against Jams Vu, John Vu and Tuyien (Judy) Vu.
Neither those identified as the owners of the mal or attorneys representing them have responses to any of the motions filed by Swanigan.
In the court filing Monday, Swanigan contends that Wyatt should enter an order against the owners of the mall for $31.5 million, as well as attorney fees and punitive damages.
Swanigan is basing her figure on a 2018 profit and loss form which showed that the theater claimed a profit of $523,477 which she said Mays and Ezime contended was lower than what the theaters had earned in the past because Vu was operating the theaters and “failed to maintain the theaters and was illegally steaming movies which significantly reduced the quality of the theater and attendance.”
They went on to contend that Vu told them the theater was worth $10 million and that it should earn $1 million a year, and the motion filed by Swanigan wants Wyatt to award Mays and Ezime just over $1 million a year for 35 years, the length of the original lease, or for a minimum of 10 years.
In June 2019, Mays and Ezime signed a lease with Vu to operate the Saracen Cinema 8 and according to the original complaint, filed May 19 of this year, Vu was obligated to do certain maintenance and to get a third-party inspector to evaluate the condition of the heating, plumbing, electrical, air conditioning and other systems. That complaint said Vu did not obtain the third-party inspector and Mays and Ezime spent more than $18,000 to repair problems with the heating and air conditioning systems, fire alarms, sprinkler systems, mold and pest infestation.
Mays and Ezime contended that they stopped paying rent to make the repairs needed and Vu locked them out of the building, prompting the initial complaint.
Vu later contended that the mall was foreclosed on and shut it down in the late summer, and Swanigan contended that the law firm Vu identified as the one representing them in the foreclosure was not licensed to practice law in Arkansas and they did not represent Vu.