HUNTINGTON -- An Ohio woman is suing her in-laws for more than $250,000 in losses associated with a business she bought from them.
Lorri Cleer of Proctorville, Ohio, bought the Cleers' heating and air conditioning business, Liberty Technicians, Inc., on November 2, 2000. She paid $285,000 for the business in monthly installments of $2,562.15. Also, the Cleers required she continue their lease on the location in monthly installments of $1,161.00 for at least ten years.
In August 2004, Lorri petitioned for a divorce from her husband, who was heavily involved in the day to day operations of Liberty Technicians. And on August 27, she received a letter from the Cleers stating a lack of confidence in her ability to operate the business and demanded monthly profit and loss reports and statements from vendors.
In February 2005, the Cleers began alleging that certain receivables had been misappropriated, that they needed receipts for property taxes, and they demanded a special shareholder meeting to elect a director and officers of Liberty Technicians.
Following the advice of her legal counsel, Brian Blickenstaff of the Charleston firm of Turner & Johns, on Feb. 21, Lorri sent them a letter reminded them that they did not own any shares and addressed their other concerns.
Between Feb. 21 and March 3, the Cleers broke into the office of Liberty Technicians and proceeded to retrieve and copy corporate files. Then Lorri's ex-husband and the Cleers met with some of Liberty Technicians' major clients in an attempt to take away business from Lorri, which succeeded.
Filed on April 18, 2008, the suit states that on March 1, 2005, the Cleers offered to purchase the business for $100,000. When Lorri refused, the Cleers started a heating and air conditioning business known as Air Tech. They also approached Lorri's technicians to offer them employment.
Then, in a strange turn of events, the Cleers declared Lorri had defaulted on the loan and instead of liquidating the assets of the company, they took it over and began daily operation of Liberty Technicians. Now, Lorri is being harassed by creditors and tax authorities because her name is still attached to the business. Lori suffered significant losses following the attempts to lure her customers and employees away, and she is seeking compensatory damages for $145,387.39, punitive damages in the amount of $10,000, and attorneys' fees.