Battery Hotel deposits were non-refundable: lawyer

Rick Butler being sued for $120,000 by former prospective buyer

Published on November 30, 2012
The Battery Hotel. — Telegram file photo by Keith Gosse

The lawyer for the owner of the Battery Hotel says his client will fight a lawsuit from a former prospective buyer.

Jeffrey Sultan, lawyer for Rick Butler, said his client only became aware of the lawsuit, filed by Republic Properties in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court this month against Butler and Signal Hill Properties, when contacted by The Telegram.

According to Republic Properties’ statement of claim, deposits paid as part of tentative agreements reached last year to buy the Battery Hotel and the Canadian rights to Butler’s “Hotel California” trademark were not returned after the deals fell through.

Sultan said the deposits became non-refundable past certain time-frames in the negotiation.

“I don’t want to litigate the case in the press, but it’s basically a contractual dispute over the date that the deposits became non-refundable,” Sultan said Thursday from California, where the Canadian-born Butler is based.

The original agreement to purchase the Battery Hotel for an undisclosed sum fell through after an environmental report and survey uncovered “significant concerns,” according to the statement of claim, and a revised offer with a new purchase price was reviewed by Republic Properties, but not ultimately agreed to.

The St. John’s-based corporation filed its statement of claim Nov. 13, seeking the return of the $20,000 deposit for the trademark agreement and the $100,000 deposit for the hotel purchase agreement.

Evidence lacking

Sultan said the buyer was required to provide evidence of financing, which didn’t happen.

“Those evidences of financing never came through, so that was our first indication that they may not be willing to proceed, or able to proceed,” said Sultan, who added a statement of defence would be filed with the court once his client had been officially served with the lawsuit, which he said hasn’t happened yet.

Messages left by The Telegram for Republic Properties and its lawyer have not been returned.

Earlier this month, Memorial University announced it had bought the Signal Hill landmark, in a sale due to close in January, pending a detailed inspection of the property, a satisfactory closing arrangement and government approv­al.

Twitter: TelegramDaniel