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Firm's bid to avoid eviction denied

The Siegel, Kelleher & Kahn law firm is a step closer to being evicted from its longtime headquarters at 426 Franklin St.

City Court Judge Craig D. Hannah has turned down the law firm's request to dismiss an eviction complaint filed by Herbert M. Siegel, a former partner in the firm who owns the building.

"We'll go before Judge Hannah again on April 26, and will ask the judge for an immediate order of eviction," said Adam W. Perry, one of Siegel's attorneys, on Monday.

Siegel, 74, co-founded the law firm and was a partner for more than 30 years before leaving about four years ago. He and Dennis A. Kahn, 59, who now runs the firm, are feuding.

Siegel still owns one of two Franklin Street buildings where the law firm has its offices, and in court papers, he alleges that Kahn's firm has not paid rent since last December. The monthly rent, according to Siegel's attorneys, is $7,000.

Attorney Joseph M. Makowski, who represents the law firm, said the law firm stopped paying rent because Siegel refused to make some needed repairs to the building, an allegation that was heatedly denied by Perry.

In a court order obtained by The Buffalo News on Monday, Hannah dismissed the law firm's request that he dismiss the eviction petition.

"The record is clear" that a lease agreement began in June 2007, and that the law firm has not made rent payments since last December, Hannah wrote.

"With all the misdirections, accusations, insinuations and subterfuge, one could easily lose sight of the seminal issue of whether a party can utilize a summary proceeding to avoid long, protracted litigation where the issue (nonpayment of rent) is uncontroverted, finite and succinct as it is in this case," Hannah wrote. "The answer is yes, and the eviction proceeding should commence forthwith to avoid any additional delay."

The judge's order "speaks for itself," but the law firm will continue to fight eviction, Makowski said.

The Hogan Willig law firm in Amherst announced last week that is negotiating a business agreement to join forces with Siegel, Kelleher & Kahn.

Attorney Steven G. Wells also represents Siegel as Perry's co-counsel.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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