Whether or not the Alabama Music Box will be allowed to stay at their current home at 455 Dauphin St. will be decided sometime this week by Mobile County District Court Judge Bob Sherling, following a Nov. 25 eviction hearing.
David Mathews, majority owner of the Alabama Music Box, and Brad Young, of Diggler LLC the company that owns the 455 Dauphin St. property, met in court on Nov. 25 to make their competing cases to Sherling.
On Aug. 26, Diggler LLC gave the Alabama Music Box a 30-day notice to move out of the Dauphin Street location. The deadline for the music venue was Sept. 1. However, to date the Alabama Music Box remains in the building.
John Lee, an attorney for Diggler, argued that the eviction was a simple 30-day notice for a commercial month-to-month lease and the business should vacate the premises. Young has wanted AMB out of his building as a result of Mathews’ frequent legal run-ins due to noise issues.
But Buzz Jordan, the attorney representing the Music Box LLC, said the matter is anything but simple.
Jordan said the two groups entered into an agreement in May of 2010 that put the AMB on an annual lease, which means the Music Box would have more rights than if they were on a month-by-month basis. However, Young and Lee said the contract was never signed by two other AMB owners so the agreement was never executed.
“I told David when he brought back the contract with just his signature that it would be null and void without the other two owners’ signatures,” Young said. “He told me he couldn’t get them to sign it.”
The 2010 agreement was first partially signed because Young had just sold his ownership portion of the AMB to Mathews. Mathews wanted there to be an agreement on the table between Young, who owns the 455 Dauphin St. building, and the Music Box LLC to protect the music venue.
The crux of the eviction issue hinges on whether Sherling will side with AMB on the idea of the company having an annual lease or if he will agree with Diggler and deem there was a month-to-month lease.
It didn’t look good for the AMB in court on Nov. 25. Several times Sherling said the 2010 contract “wasn’t a lease because it wasn’t signed by everyone” and said, “there was not an agreement.”
Lee countered Jordan’s argument saying even if there was an agreement in 2010, then it would have stopped in 2011 because there was no renew or option to renew clause in the contract.
Mathews testified he was under the assumption they had an annual lease because each year the rent went up $200 as was agreed upon.
“I thought we were under the 2010 agreement. Brad did not tell me that the contract was void if the other owners signed,” he said. “We’ve paid rent every month for six years, and for the last three years we have increased the rent every year by $200 because I thought that was the agreement.”
In closing arguments, Lee asked Sherling to evict the AMB and require them to pay the rent for September and October, which is $5,600 total. Mathews said the venue has written checks to Diggler, but Young will not accept them. That is because in commercial month-by-month leasing, if a landlord takes rent money, then the eviction process starts all over again.
Jordan asked the judge to find that the AMB does not have to vacate 455 Dauphin St. until July 31, 2014 based on the pattern of rent increase, which suggests there was a yearly agreement.