The operators of Shooters Waterfront Cafe were barred Friday from using a "false" corporate identity, which one creditor claims they have used to derail its efforts to collect the money it is owed.
State Supreme Court Justice Edward A. Rath Jr. has told Shooters owner Jeffrey J. Davis and his two partners they must use their company's full name, EDB-Buffalo Inc., and stop using EDB Inc. for business purposes, according to court officials.
The creditor, Jameson Roofing Co. Inc. of Dunkirk, raised the name issue in a civil racketeering lawsuit it filed against Davis and EDB-Buffalo seeking the unpaid portion of a roofing contract for the $5.5 million bistro.
Alan J. Bozer, a Buffalo attorney representing Jameson Roofing, said his client is seeking triple damages of $88,927 and punitive damages of $25,000. He claims Davis allegedly used the false corporate name to avoid paying the money it owes his client and other creditors.
He said Davis has led Shooters creditors to believe that his company is legally known as EDB Inc. As a result, creditors have been filing judgments in the Erie County clerk's office against EDB, which is also the name of an unrelated Central New York concern.
To serve judgment papers on Davis' concern, creditors legally had to go through the state Secretary of State's office, which would routinely forward the papers to the Central New York concern, Bozer said.
As a result of the delays caused by the name problem, Davis' attorneys could come in to court months after judgments were filed and after creditors began court action and claim that EDB Buffalo never got the papers and isn't known as EDB, Bozer said.
He said that happened last month when Rath dismissed a $29,000 judgment that Jameson Roofing had filed against EDB in March. He said Davis claimed he never got word of the judgment.
He said attorneys for Jameson Roofing learned of this "scheme" recently when two Buffalo area banks froze Shooters bank accounts in a dispute over the corporate name and Shooters attorneys told bank attorneys of the "mistake."
According to court papers in the Jameson Roofing case, 10 other contractors have so-called mechanic lien-judgments against EDB Buffalo totaling nearly $605,000.
Davis declined to comment.
Cheryl Smith Fisher, one of Davis' attorneys, called the Jameson suit and the name-change allegations "ridiculous."
Ms. Fisher said the EDB-Buffalo corporate name has been properly registered with both the state and Erie County for some time.
Bozer said only Davis was named an individual defendant in the racketeering lawsuit because of corporate documents that show he has officially listed himself as "agent of EDB Inc." rather than the legally correct EDB-Buffalo Inc. and has listed his own West Tupper Street office as its office.