Prince Frederick, MD – A Circuit Court judge has denied a request from an attorney for a former owner of a popular Calvert County bar to grant a preliminary injunction to halt the proposed sale of the business. The case brought by St. Mary’s County resident Patrick Donovan against PT Tiki Inc. and a former bar employee seeks a declaratory judgment. The injunction request was heard in Calvert County Circuit Court by Judge Philip Nichols Friday morning, May 18.
At one time, Donovan was part-owner of the Tiki Bar in Solomons. The bar’s ownership has been in a state of transition since the sudden death last September of owner Terry Clarke, Donovan’s former business partner. Donovan was represented by attorney Joshua A. Tarr. PT Tiki Inc. was represented by Walter W. Green. On May 8 Tarr filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction in order to stop the pending sale. Just hours prior to the hearing Green filed a motion to dismiss the injunction request and case.
“An injunction is necessary in this case,” said Tarr, who added time was needed to gather further evidence. Donovan was the only witness Tarr called during the proceedings. The plaintiff testified that he and Clarke became business partners in the early 1990s, starting an underwater construction company. The partners’ purchase of the Tiki Bar occurred in 2005 after the underwater construction business had become successful. Donovan testified that he owned 400 shares of the Tiki Bar’s stock. Clarke did not own stock due to liquor license requirements. That situation stemmed from a criminal case in which Clarke was the defendant. Donovan stated that around 2011 he and Clarke decided to dissolve the partnership. He indicated many companies were involved in the dissolution but the Tiki Bar was not one of those companies. Donovan testified that in March of 2017 he received a letter from the bar’s attorney, Charles Donnelly, notifying him (Donovan) that Clarke wanted to exercise an option to purchase his stock. The plaintiff admitted he didn’t read Donnelly’s missive in its entirety. “I got a little hot under the collar,” said Donovan, who added Donnelly’s letter, “ended up in the round file.” He added that he held a promissory note and his contact with Clarke prior to his death amounted to “phone tag.”
Green had no questions for Donovan and called no witnesses.
“What we are dealing with is the world-famous Tiki Bar,” said Tarr, who added that the injunction would prevent harm to a potential buyer, to Donovan and the public’s interest.
“It’s really about the money, isn’t it?” Nichols asked. Tarr insisted that not resolving the issue of Donovan’s ownership claim was not in anyone’s interest and the Tiki Bar’s unique liquor license could lapse. “Who’s buying this place and what exactly are they buying?” Tarr asked. “The public’s interest is definitely at stake. We need adequate time to resolve this.”
Green contended that there was no current evidence supporting Donovan’s stock ownership claim. The defense attorney added that the sale of the bar was not a public matter. Nichols concurred and dismissed the request for a temporary restraining order without prejudice.
The sale of the Tiki Bar is being handled by Dennis Murphy, the Annapolis-based real estate broker.
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