NEW ORLEANS – A restaurant renting commercial space in a building alleges tenants of a building next door played a role in causing two fires that led to their business ceasing operations.

GCMH LLC, Decatur at Sbisa Inc., Decatur 1011 LLC and 1011 Decatur Corp. filed suit against Max Nathan Jr., in his capacity as independent executer of the succession of/Estate of William Colacurcio Jr., and their insurer in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Sept. 18.

In June 2013, GCMH LLC entered into a contractual agreement with Decatur at Sbisa Inc., operating the restaurant Café Sbisa, located at 1011 Decatur Street in New Orleans. As part of this agreement, GCMH would provide $6,500 per month rent, as well as all functioning costs. The defendant, succession of/estate of William Colacurcio Jr. and Max Nathan Jr. owned the adjacent property at 1005 Decatur Street.

On Sept. 19, 2013, a fire erupted at 1005 Decatur Street, which shares a joint wall with Café Sbisa. The fire allegedly caused severe smoke damage to the second floor of Café Sbisa, forcing the restaurant to be closed. A week later, on Sept. 26, 2013, a second larger scale fire broke out at 1007 Decatur Street, which spread to 1005 Decatur Street, allegedly causing even more significant property damage to Café Sbisa.

The landowner of 1005 Decatur Street allegedly failed to deter his tenants from entering the premises after the first fire on Sept. 19, 2013. This allegedly constitutes an extreme hazard, as the property failed to have any electrical power following the first fire. When these tenants returned to the property, they allegedly used candles and smoked in the rooms as a way of providing light. The second fire, which occurred at night, was allegedly attributed to a tenant who was on the premises on Sept. 26, 2013.

Café Sbisa reopened in mid-October 2013, but due to the severe amount of smoke damage and heavy fire smells, has done so on a limited basis. The failure of the aforementioned defendants to pay for the alleged property damage has caused the plaintiffs to cease operations on July 1.

The plaintiffs are represented by Edward A. Rodrigue Jr. of Boggs, Loehn & Rodrigue.

The case has been assigned to Div. A Judge Tiffany G. Chase.

Case no. 2014-09201.

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