Buell's suit against potential buyer to proceed, as judge refuses to dismiss case ELLICOTT CITY/ELKRIDGE

January 15, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A lawsuit filed by the owner of Buell's Restaurant in Ellicott City against a man who allegedly backed out of a deal to buy the business will proceed after a judge refused Wednesday to dismiss the case.

Howard Circuit Judge James Dudley denied a request by Wilson An-Tuen Lee of Ellicott City to drop the suit over the restaurant.

Gertrude Buell, whose family has operated the landmark, home-style restaurant for more than five decades, filed suit against Mr. Lee in November after he did not buy the business.

Mrs. Buell is asking the court to order Mr. Lee to buy the restaurant and award her $250,000 in damages, according to the suit.

"We now have to the answer the lawsuit, which we will do," said Thomas Baker, a Baltimore attorney for Mr. Lee. "Justice will undoubtedly prevail."

Mr. Lee, whose family operates Y.Y. Lee Inc., filed a counter suit against Mrs. Buell in December asking the court to order her to return a $10,000 deposit he paid while negotiating to buy the restaurant.

Neither suit specifies a potential purchase price for the restaurant.

The businessman backed out of plans to buy the restaurant along Baltimore National Pike and convert it to a Chinese restaurant after he learned the building had structural problems, court papers say.

Mr. Lee and Mrs. Buell signed a contract in August for the sale of the restaurant, Mrs. Buell's suit says. The agreement allowed Mr. Lee to inspect the property within 90 days for feasibility studies.

If results of the studies proved unfavorable, Mr. Lee could terminate the contract and get back his $10,000 deposit, according to the sales agreement included with the counter suit.

One of Mr. Lee's attorneys sent Mrs. Buell's attorney a letter Oct. 23 saying the businessman wanted to cancel the contract because engineers found that the restaurant had structural defects that would be costly to repair.

The attorney said Mr. Lee still wanted to buy the restaurant, but wanted to renegotiate a lower purchase price. The businessman wanted the $10,000 returned to him during the negotiations.

However, a new agreement was never reached, and Mrs. Buell filed suit Nov. 10 to compel Mr. Lee to meet the terms of the original contract.

In the request to dismiss Mrs. Buell's suit, Mr. Lee says it would be "unfair, harsh and inequitable" to enforce a contract that provided terms for him to terminate it.

Lewis Straughn Nippard, an Ellicott City attorney for Mrs. Buell, asked the court to deny Mr. Lee's request for dismissal. He also denied the allegations in the counter suit.

No date has been set for a court hearing.

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