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VOL. 133 | NO. 151 | Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Artists vs. Madison Hotel Developers Settlement Hangs on Text Message

The Daily News

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The ongoing eviction case between two local artists and a Chicago-based hotel group took a turn for the plaintiff Wednesday in Circuit Court.

The counsel for Aparium Hotel Group and G4 Partners, which are planning a multimillion-dollar renovation of the Madison Hotel and the adjacent 1 S. Main, learned Wednesday local artist Sarah Fleming, one of the evicted artists, is not part of the settlement agreement pending between the parties.

After going back and forth for weeks trying to hash out particulars of the settlement, Josh Kahane, an attorney with Glankler Brown representing Aparium, learned in Wednesday’s proceeding that Fleming is not represented by the defendant’s legal counsel and,therefore, not part of the pending agreement.

Spicer Rudstrom attorney Newton Anderson represents local artist Christopher Reyes and his mother, Vernice Kuglin, who were parties of the original contract with Downtown property owner Henry Turley selling them the 5,000-square-foot loft on the second floor of the Madison Hotel.

“We’ve gone back and forth for weeks and up until this moment, in a shocking turn of events, we find out Anderson doesn’t represent Fleming,” Kahane said.

The main contention of the settlement is a signature from Fleming on the previous agreement.

Kahane argued that while Reyes would move out, Fleming would stay, forcing Aparium to file another eviction directed at Fleming.

Kahane also contended Fleming has been on a social media “tirade” against the hotel group and wants her bound by a nondisparaging clause.

However, after texts and emails between attorneys, Circuit Court Division I Judge Felicia Corbin-Johnson is taking the case under judiciary advisement to determine if a single word in a text has Aparium on the hook to settle without the nondisparaging clause.

On June 8, a day after receiving a “new counter offer” from Anderson, typed in bullet points through email, Kahane texted the words “Settled. I will begin drafting the paperwork on Monday.”

Anderson argues the text “should have been the end of it” and it constitutes as a contract settling the case.

Kahane said the text was an acknowledgement of the two parties agreeing to a settlement price of $150,000 to help the artists relocate, and he still planned to come back with provisions, including the nondisparaging clause.

“Anderson is playing a game of gotcha,” Kahane said. “We never had an agreement. We’re not going to be forced to pay these people money to disparage us.”

Although not his client, Anderson said Fleming is unwilling to sign the nondisparagement agreement for fear of Aparium following her around her whole life and suing her every time she speaks ill of Aparium’s project.

Corbin-Johnson is taking about three weeks to review cases and determine if contract law applies to text and email communications. She also ordered the parties to meet with a mediator.

If the parties do not settle during review, the court will require Reyes and Kuglin to pay Aparium one year’s rent, likely between $55,000 and $80,000 to cover lost revenue while the settlement agreement is disputed in court.

PROPERTY SALES 21 82 6,474
MORTGAGES 7 53 4,088
BUILDING PERMITS 240 353 15,714
BANKRUPTCIES 38 58 3,328