Motion: Bid for new trial on store ownership 'without a foundation' – The Town Talk
The attorney for the longtime owner of Chandler Groceries has filed a memorandum opposing an attempt by a Lafayette Parish man to bring the issue of who owns the now fire-damaged property back to court.
A Rapides Parish judge in July ruled that Donald Chandler was the rightful owner of the La. Highway 28 West convenience store and deli that he had owned for about 40 years. Chandler had sued Ayoub Ali days after a June 7 fire destroyed the business, and Ali didn’t respond in the time specified by law.
More:Rapides judge voids ‘sale’ of Chandlers Groceries store destroyed in fire
So Chandler’s attorney, William Ford, sought a preliminary default judgment. It was granted and, on July 21, Judge Monique Rauls made it official.
Not only did her ruling void the document Ali filed with the Rapides Parish Clerk of Court’s Office showing he’d bought the store and property for $325,000 cash, but it recognized Chandler as the sole owner.
It also left open the possibility that Ali could be held liable for damages and costs incurred by Chandler.
Ali had operated the store for two to three months before the fire that destroyed it. According to Ford, Ali was the third and final person to have operated the store over the past 30 years.
After the judgment against him, Ali got an attorney who filed a motion in August to bring the issue back for a trial. A hearing has been set for Monday, according to online court records.
In that motion, Ali questioned why a lawsuit wasn’t filed until after the fire that destroyed the business and said the notary public and two witnesses he claims were present at the sale were not called in to testify.
It also referred a $2 million insurance policy that Ali purchased for the property, asking if it was coincidental that Chandler filed his lawsuit as an insurance company prepared to make such a payout.
And he also said he’d been in quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic after being served with the lawsuit, which he claimed made it difficult to secure an attorney.
An investigation into the fire is still open and active, a Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office spokesperson said Friday.
Ford has said Ali had expressed an interest in buying the store and property and that Chandler told him it would cost $325,000. But, according to court filings, Ali failed to show for several appointments to discuss the sale before presenting a document — a purported lease — for Chandler to sign so that he could acquire a liquor license.
Chandler contends he never received any cash from Ali and that he didn’t sign a sales agreement before a notary or witnesses, according to court filings.
Since that motion was filed, Ali has switched attorneys.
Ford filed a memorandum in early January opposing a new trial, in which he said the pandemic is no excuse for not responding to the initial lawsuit.
“He simply ignored this lawsuit, which is a very serious matter to Mr. Chandler, who had lost his property for which he had not been paid,” it reads.
It also states that pleadings and testimony at the time the default judgment was granted established that none of the three women Ali said were present at the sale — the notary and two witnesses — were there when Chandler signed the purported lease document.
The memorandum also calls Ali’s character into question because of the mention of the potential $2 million insurance payout.
“This tells you just what type of person defendant is and reveals his character,” it reads. “He is attempting to collect from an insurance company two million dollars for a piece of property which he has alleged he just acquired at market value for $325,000.
“His antics, falsehoods and lies will continue until the judgment in this honorable court has reached a conclusion and is final.”
Ford’s memorandum asks the court to deny a new trial because it is “totally inadequate and without a foundation.”
A lawsuit represents one side of a legal argument.