The Doe Run Company filed a petition in St. Francois County Circuit Court Wednesday against West End Diving-Bonne Terre Inc., the company which operates Bonne Terre Mine.
The petition was filed the same day a previous suit between the two parties was dismissed at Doe Run's request.
In the newly-filed lawsuit petition, Doe Run alleges that West End Diving has breached a contract between the two companies by failing to pay rent and by failing to maintain the underground mineral estate (the mine), taking all actions necessary to protect members of the public who visited the location.
Doe Run is the owner of the underground mine, which is located in part underneath Bonne Terre Mine at 185 Park Ave. West End Diving or its predecessor has occupied the mine pursuant to the terms of a written lease originally dated May 27, 1976.
According to the petition, Section 1 of the lease requires West End Diving to “pay as rent for the demised premises a sum equivalent to 10 percent of the total gross admission receipts received during the term of this Lease or any renewal hereof, said rent to be paid monthly ..."
The lease further states that West End Diving shall pay Doe Run a minimum of $500 per lease-year for each year.
The petition alleges West End Diving has failed to pay rent to Doe Run since approximately January 2006, and now unpaid rent is due and owed in an amount known only to West End Diving, as monthly rents are based upon a percentage of total gross admission receipts. The petition alleges West End Diving has not reported admission receipts to Doe Run since January 2006. The petition states the amount owed to Doe Run by West End Diving is no less than $500 for each of the years from 2006 through 2019.
The written lease, as amended and extended, expired by its terms on Oct. 26, 2006, at which time West End Diving became a holdover tenant “at will” (with the consent of Doe Run) on a month-to-month basis. During this tenancy at will, the parties’ relationship remained governed by the terms of the written lease as amended.
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Last month, on July 18, Doe Run sent West End Diving a letter giving it one month’s written notice that Doe Run would terminate West End Diving’s month-to-month tenancy effective Aug. 19, according to the petition.
According to the petition, West End Diving, although having acknowledged receiving Doe Run’s July letter terminating its month-to-month tenancy, refused to vacate the premises and return the mine to Doe Run, which the mining company says it has been entitled to possess since Aug. 20.
With this newly-filed petition, Doe Run is seeking judgment from the court on three counts.
Count One requests that the court grant judgment for the rent owed by West End Diving to be paid. Doe Run is also requesting for the immediate possession of the property and for costs and expenses incurred in this matter, "as well as any other relief deemed just and proper under the circumstances," to be paid by the defendant.
In Count Two, Doe Run asks that the court grants them judgment for double the value of the monthly rents that are due and may accrue while this court action is pending. Doe Run is also requesting payment for late fees and the company's attorney’s fees to be paid.
In Count Three, the petition states that West End Diving materially breached the lease with Doe Run and was negligent by failing to maintain the mine and take all actions necessary to protect members of the public that visited the mine.
Specifically mentioned in Count Three is that West End Diving’s failure to properly maintain the mine led to irregular caving in or sinking of land on the surface estate above the mine, for which Doe Run has expended substantial sums investigating and seeking to repair or remedy. Doe Run further states in the claim that investigation is continuing and further remedial efforts may be required.
Lastly stated in Count Three is that, as a result of West End Diving’s breach of the lease, Doe Run has suffered damages no less than $25,000. Doe Run asked for compensatory damages, for the company’s costs and expenses, and for "such other relief deemed just and proper under the circumstances."
According to court records, a summons was delivered to West End Diving on Thursday and a hearing to set a trial date is scheduled for Oct. 2 before Associate Circuit Court Judge Joseph Goff Jr.