Thursday, May 22, 2003

Neighbors sue over damage from fire



By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - In the year since the Odd Fellows Hall fire, the operators of four businesses have filed suit, claiming the owners and the people renovating the landmark are to blame for the fire that damaged their properties and cost them income.

Earl Franks & Sons Flooring was the latest to file suit, on Tuesday in Kenton Circuit Court, against Odd Fellows II LLC, contractors and subcontractors.

Previously, the owners of the Piano Lounge at 432 Madison Ave., Economy Market at 420 Madison Ave. and the Venus Lounge dance club at 21 E. Fifth St. filed similar suits.

The operators of the Venus Lounge claimed they were to close a deal to sell the sexually oriented business the day after the Odd Fellows blaze. Their lawyer, Donald Nageleisen, said the fire stopped that deal.

The Franks' suit, also filed by Nageleisen, seeks compensation for smoke and water damage to the business at 428 Madison Ave., as well as loss of personal income, loss of potential personal income, a loss of business income, and compensation for mental pain.

"Any allegation that my clients somehow caused the fire is in direct contravention to what three separate investigations found a year ago," said Greg Shumate, general counsel for the developers. "They didn't cause the fire. ... It was an unfortunate incident that affected not only the business owners who filed the suits but the owners of the Odd Fellows Hall themselves."

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com




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