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Former OOB business partners face off in court

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Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2011 3:58 pm

OLD ORCHARD BEACH – A judge is set to sort out the claims and counterclaims between former Old Orchard Beach-based business partners Paul Golzbein and James Albert during a trial scheduled to take place sometime next month.

The partnership between Golzbein, owner of The Pier, and Albert, owner of Jimmy the Greek’s, dissolved in 2008 when Albert left to start his own restaurant and pub, which is located at the former Village Inn on Saco Avenue.

At the heart of the dispute between the two men, according to court documents filed at the York County Superior Court, is money Golzbein said Albert took without his knowledge or consent, as well as Albert’s refusal to sell back his shares of stock in the Patio Pub, the name of The Pier’s parent company.

In addition, the suit filed by Golzbein accuses Albert of using Patio Pub contractors and employees to get Jimmy’s established and of contacting entertainers scheduled to appear at the Patio Pub suggesting they perform at his bar instead.

The suit also alleges that Albert “has done and continues to interfere with the Patio Pub’s business operations and relationships to benefit Jimmy the Greek’s.”

Golzbein is seeking $65,451 in reimbursement from Albert. In addition, he’s asked the court to order Albert to turn over his shares of stock and to impose punitive damages.

In his counterclaim, Albert says that Golzbein didn’t pay him the full amount of wages he was owed for 2008 and he is demanding payment of $29,230. In addition, Albert claims that Golzbein breached the contract between the two men.

According to Golzbein’s complaint, Albert worked for Golzbein for 10 years, 1998-2008. During that time, Albert was a director and president of the Patio Pub Corp.

He resigned those positions on May 27, 2008. The Golzbein suit says that under the stockholders agreement, upon termination of his employment the stocks Albert owned were supposed to be either sold or transferred back to the company.

The suit filed by Golzbein said that demand was made of Albert, but he “rejected the proposed buyout.”

In addition, Golzbein claims that while Albert was acting as president of the Patio Pub, he “used corporate funds to pay bills and expenses of another enterprise.” Those amounts, according to the court documents, total $63,600.

Toward the end of Albert’s employment by the Patio Pub, Golzbein claims that Albert deposited a check of about $1,800 that was made out to the company into his personal account.

The suit says that since Albert has not reimbursed the company for these amounts in the three years since he left the Patio Pub, he’s breached his fiduciary duty to his former employer and business partner.

Golzbein initially filed suit in July 2010. An unsuccessful mediation session between the two men was conducted in June, which led to the matter being placed on the Oct. 31 trial list, according to the court documents.

Albert’s attorney, Craig Rancourt, said the dispute between his client and Golzbein is “at it’s simplest, about the value of stock and unpaid compensation.

“My client has a claim for unpaid wages and the value of his ownership interest,” Rancourt added, “and it will be up to the judge to decide who owes who what.”

Rancourt said the unnamed punitive damages Golzbein is seeking are “not appropriate for a case of this type,” and he doesn’t expect a judge to impose such damages if the finding is in Golzbein’s favor.

Calls to Thomas Danylik, who represents Golzbein, seeking comment were not returned before the Sun Chronicle’s deadline.

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