Restaurant Owner, Landlord Suing Each Other For $1 Million Each

By Guy Leonard, County Times

LEONARDTOWN, Md. (Dec. 6, 2007)—Linda Palchinsky, the owner of Linda’s Café in both Lexington Park and Leonardtown, is suing her landlord Irene Parrish for $1 million after Parrish allegedly tried to have her business on Washington Street closed down late October.

But Parrish has also filed a lawsuit against Palchinsky seeking damages for the same amount.

The lawsuit is the latest in an ongoing property dispute between the restaurateur and the landlord.

“It’s one of those things that has snowballed,” said Palchinsky’s attorney John Lawrence. “It’s gotten to be pretty acrimonious.”

According to the lawsuit filed in St. Mary’s County Circuit Court in late October Palchinsky claims that Parrish has been trying to disrupt her business by saying falsely that Linda’s Café was going through foreclosure proceedings, and advertising a new restaurant in Leonardtown called Ye Olde Towne Café to replace Palchinsky’s business.

Palchinsky’s suit also claims that since entering into an agreement with Parrish last year to lease her business from Parrish that the landlord has failed repeatedly to make critical repairs to the amenities at the restaurant.

Palchinsky’s suit claims that Parrish’s actions, which include changing the locks onthe entrance to her Leonardtown restaurant as well as the burglar alarm code one week in October is a malicious attempt to discredit her and run her out of her business.

“Linda was locked out in late October,” Lawrence said. “That was the last straw.”

Since the closure, which lasted several days, the restaurant has since reopened and continued to wait on customers.

John Norris III, attorney for Parrish filed Parrish’s countering lawsuit in Circuit Court Oct. 25 and Palchinsky was served with the notice of the suit Tuesday.

Norris said that Palchinsky was the one who had failed to live up to her part of the lease agreement.

He also said that the dispute has been hashed out in District Court many times.

“It means that Linda breached the lease,” Norris said of his client’s suit. “She failed to pay rent, she failed to pay the security deposit required under the lease. And she failed to get insurance that was required under the lease.”

Norris also stated in the suit that Palchinsky was liable for trespass for having locks replaced that Parrish used in late October to shut down the restaurant on Washington Street.

Norris also said that Palchinksy wrote checks that “bounced for having insufficient funds.”

Lawrence said that Palchinsky would still like to come to some kind of amicable settlement with her landlord but that the lawsuit may still be their only option at this point.

“It’s what we think is reasonable,” Lawrence said of the $1 million in damages Palchinsky is seeking. “You get beat up so much you’re forced to react.”

In the section of the lawsuit claiming breach of contract on Parrish’s part, it claims that Parrish had discovered asbestos at the Leonardtown location but failed to have it removed.

Parrish and her company have not installed proper gas lines in the restaurant, the suit alleges, causing appliances to malfunction; the defendant in the case has also not repaired the leaking roof that has caused damage to the floor and walls of the restaurant.

Palchinsky, who declined to comment on the lawsuit, also claims in court papers that there are numerous electrical problems in the building that inhibit her business’s operating properly.

Along with the $1 million lawsuit, Palchinsky is also suing for an undisclosed amount of punitive damages.

Parrish has retained a Towson-based lawyer, Neil James Ruther, to defend her against Palchinsky’s claim, but The County Times could not reach him in time for comment.

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