Second lawsuit filed in dispute over ownership of restaurant | AspenTimes.com

Second lawsuit filed in dispute over ownership of restaurant

Tim Mutrie

Less than a week after John Hamwi filed a civil lawsuit against his brother Paul – claiming breach of contract over the right to buy Paul’s interests in Little Annie’s Eating House – Paul has responded with a lawsuit against John, claiming similar improprieties.

In Paul Hamwi’s suit against brother John, filed last Friday in Pitkin County District Court, Paul acknowledges that the two entered into an “option agreement” which entitled John, who has a 40 percent ownership in Little Annie’s, to buy Paul’s 60 percent interest in the Hyman Avenue restaurant.

The option agreement was intended to provide a mechanism for establishing current market value of the restaurant, according to the lawsuit. However, it stipulated that John had to purchase Paul’s interests “no later than Feb. 22, with closing to be completed by March 17, 1999.”

John served a notice of intent to exercise his option to purchase Paul’s interests on March 17, according to the latest suit. However, Paul claims that John failed to comply with certain conditions of the option agreement, “relating to escrow procedures and the valuation of the restaurant.

“As a consequence of John Hamwi’s conduct, Paul Hamwi’s 60 percent interest in the restaurant, which currently grosses over $2 million annually and has relatively low debt, was falsely valued at approximately $69,892,” according to the suit. Therefore, the transaction is negated, the suit claims.

The option agreement also stipulated that if John failed to close on the deal by March 17, then Paul would have the option to purchase John’s interest in Little Annie’s, the suit states. In accordance with that provision, Paul exercised his option to purchase John’s 40 percent interest.

“Paul closed on his option and deposited all required purchase monies and other closing documents in escrow,” in Aspen this summer, according to the lawsuit. But despite the purported closing, John “has failed and refused to recognize Paul Hamwi’s 100 percent ownership.

“An actual controversy has arisen between Paul Hamwi and John Hamwi concerning the ownership of the partnership, each party claiming full ownership,” the suit states.

John’s suit against Paul, filed Aug. 27, simply claims that Paul failed to comply with the terms of the option agreement by reneging on their deal.

Paul’s lawsuit asks the court to make a “judicial determination” in the matter, while John’s lawsuit asks for a trial to resolve the conflict.

The brothers Hamwi formed a corporation in late 1990 for the purpose of owning and operating Little Annie’s Eating House.

Presently, Paul Hamwi is an inmate at the Sumter Correctional Institution in Bushnell, Fla. He was convicted in Florida in 1994 of first-degree murder, for hiring a “hit man” to kill his wife, Susan Hamwi in 1983. Hamwi was free for 10 years before authorities arrested him in Aspen.


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