Bread Factory eviction case turns into legal battle
The case involving the closure of the Bread Factory has taken a new turn as former owner Soo Jeong Pak is now suing both Santa Monica College and the owner of Eat Street, located across from the vacant Bread Factory in the cafeteria. According to the most recent court filings, Pak is suing SMC for an amount of $1.4 million for applicable claims, as well as general and special damages. She is also seeking $1 million for exemplary and punitive damages.
Depsite multiple attempts SMC's Human Resources department was unavailable for comment.
The court files on the case reveal a business partnership between Pak and Eat Street owner Hannah An that turned sour.
According to court documents, in July 2009 Pak and An made an agreement to form Eatology, a joint restaurant company that would be made up of both of their businesses. This would bridge an alliance between Eat Street and the now defunct Bread Factory in which both parties would split profits evenly amongst themselves.
Pak alleges that An and SMC began to make business decisions without her knowledge. However, what those decisions were and how they contributed to the Bread Factory being unable to pay rent are still unclear.
Pak is accusing SMC and An of being "conspirators" in a scheme in which An would eventually become the sole owner of both eateries and in essence, all of Eatology.
In the court documents, Pak alleges that An and her husband "built an amicable relationship" with Charlie Yen, SMC's director of contracts and event services and then went about weaving a plan to cut her out of the loop.
Pak has now filed two separate lawsuits against both SMC and Eat Street.
Eat Street management was not available for comment due to the ongoing nature of the court case.
Among Pak's many accusations is that the case has caused her "emotional distress" and "lack of sleep" and that she deserves compensation for this and alleged losses of income.
The latest court hearing was on Thursday, March 13, at the Santa Monica Courthouse presided over by Judge Gerald Rosenberg. Pak herself was not present but instead a hired court appearance attorney, Kevin Jang, in her stead.
SMC's own legal counsel, Louis Dumont, commented to Rosenberg that it is typical for Pak not to be present at the hearings.
Even more frustrating for Dumont and Rosenberg was the fact that Pak does not appear to have a basic business or home phone number where she can be contacted. Since the case began in late 2013 she has been using the number to the self-help legal center in Santa Ana from which she has been hiring court appearance lawyers to appear in her place at scheduled hearings.
The court file is full of statements by Dumont trying to reach Pak at numbers which turn out to be out of service. One very direct email contained in the file from Dumont to John Ahn, of the legal center in Santa Ana, simply states "Mr. Ahn, do you know what Ms. Pak wants to do?" The reply from Ahn simply states in muddled, legal jargon that Pak is "taking time to think" about how to proceed in settling the lawsuit.
The Corsair has attempted to call multiple numbers provided in the legal documents to no avail, receiving only answering machines, new owners, or endless ring tones. This appears to have been the same experience for the courts.
It is also alleged by Pak's representatives that she cannot speak English. In the court documents Ahn claims that Pak "does not speak and/or understand English."
When asked about this particular claim, former Bread Factory worker and SMC student Adam Marangakis said "the woman that I knew as the owner definitely spoke English."
Another SMC student and former Bread Factory employee named Oliver F. McCae said "She spoke English pretty well to us and she sure understood it."
On Thursday Judge Rosenberg adjourned and set April 22 for the next court hearing.
The Corsair will continue updating this story including information on the specific case files regarding the Eat Street lawsuit.