Sherrod files suit against mayor

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

A lawsuit recently filed by Ben Sherrod Jr. against Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson and her husband Wayne has been set for a June 3 court date.

The dispute involved a lease agreement over Williamson’s former business The Fabric Fair located at 915 South Cedar Street

Sherrod initially filed the suit March 8 with a monetary award requested.

Sherrod’s complaint states that on April 3 the defendants, Wayne and Cecil Williamson, entered into a lease with Sherrod whereby they leased from him property located in the City of Demopolis.

Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson said the matter was personal and she preferred to keep it that way.

“This is a personal matter and I do not want to mix personal business with my duties as mayor,” Williamson said.

The terms of the lease were five years beginning May 1 of 2003 and running through April of 2008. Sherrod says he fulfilled all of his obligations under the terms, however, the defendants have breached and violated the lease by abandoning the leased property and failing to pay the monthly rental amount due under the terms of the lease which was $800 a month. Sherrod says the last rental payment was made in November of 2004.

Sherrod’s statement says he sought to mitigate his damages by attempting to lease the premises to others, but has been unsuccessful to this point.

Sherrod said the entire rental sum due, reduced to present value, under the lease agreement is $29,342.22

Sherrod is seeking a judgment of this amount, interest and a reasonable attorney’s fee as provided in the lease agreement and costs.

The Williamson’s deny these claims and state the lease was not binding from the start, as Sherrod did not tell them of leaks they encountered throughout the building.

The Williamson’s said the building they occupied was divided into two sections. One was used for excess merchandise and storage. It is also stated that after a rain as much as an inch of water would stand in the area for days.

The Williamson’s said after having several hundred dollars worth of merchandise damaged they brought in wooden pallets to try to utilize the space. However, the Williamson’s say this did not solve the problem. The water continued to stand so long it would cause mold and mildew leading to more damaged merchandise.

The statement said the front of the building was no better. It states the front, which was used as a sales floor, would also flood with water seeping in under the baseboard. Because of this, it was impossible to mop the water as overnight it would seep in again causing them to constantly rearrange to keep the merchandise from getting wet. The Williamson’s also say there was a liability factor of a customer slipping on the wet floor, which Sherrod was told about but did not address.

The Williamson’s said Hurricane Ivan only added to their problems. They state the storm blew the front door almost off its hinges making it difficult to open and close. They said during business hours they were forced to leave the door hanging open so customers could enter which did not portray a good image to the customer and inhibited sales. The Williamson’s say Sherrod was notified of the problem two days after the storm, but it was never repaired.

The Williamson’s said based on these circumstances they felt they were due compensation for the loss of merchandise and aggravation and planned to pursue due compensation.

The Williamson’s also contend that it was the condition of the building and a higher rent amount ($1200 per month) responsible for his difficulties in finding a new tenant.

Sherrod could not be reached for comment.