The old Maryland Hotel (Conklin Hotel) in downtown Hannibal may have a new owner, but that hasn’t relieved its former owners - Jim and Sheryl Love of California - of their past responsibilities for the site, according James Lemon, city attorney.
“We’re at a point where they’re in contempt. It’s not even something that has to be litigated, it’s an issue of what are we asking for as relief,” he said. “Ultimately it’s not our goal to punish people or grind people into the dirt, it’s our goal to take care of this building one way or the other.”
The matter was to have been in court last week for a “show-cause hearing.” However, the hearing never occurred.
“They (Loves) have hired an attorney over in Quincy and she asked the judge for a continuance. I knew the judge would give it to her so I did not pitch a fit,” Lemon said.
Lemon views the Loves securing an attorney to handle the matter is a positive step.
“I think an attorney will urge them to comply and point out to them what the potential penalties are. I don’t know that they understood the potential penalties until they had representation,” he said.
What sort of penalties could still be in play?
“The potential penalties would be that the court could order that we tear it down and they’ll be on the hook for all of the costs. The court could also fine them for some type of punitive damages if they felt like their behavior was really egregious. I’m not saying the court will do that, but there is a potential penalty that they could suffer,” he said. “They could not only bear the cost of the demolition, they could also be looking at attorneys fees and the potential for some type of punitive award as well.”
Since the Loves have found a buyer for the building who intends to tear it down, could the matter just go away?
“Yes and no,” said Lemon. “They are going to need to pay the costs involved because we had some fairly substantial publication costs. I’ve conveyed that to their attorney and she at least tentatively said she didn’t see where there was a major objection to that. But if they go ahead and demolish the building we would certainly be willing to dismiss the action.”