Corporations often protect individuals against being liable for debt, but not always, as Bob Lida has learned.
A Sedgwick County jury on Friday found Lida liable for a $190,000 loan — $265,992 with interest — that was made to his Joint Initiatives .
"I couldn't believe what happened," he says of the verdict. "Just couldn't believe it."
Lida has Lida Group , an advertising agency whose sole client these days is Galichia Heart Hospital .
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Joint Initiatives is a company Lida formed to create rotating advertising signs.
Attorney Richard James of McDonald Tinker Skaer Quinn & Herrington represents a living trust that loaned Joint Initiatives $190,000 in 2002.
Lida says technical problems with the signs first caused delays. Then, digital advertising became less and less expensive.
"That's pretty much what killed it," Lida says of his product.
He doesn't dispute that the physician who has the living trust is owed money.
"He was owed the money by Joint Initiatives. He was absolutely not owed the money by me,'' Lida says.
James says he represents a number of corporations and appreciates that corporations generally are treated as separate entities.
"However, if you're going to be a corporation, you need to act like a corporation," James says.
That includes keeping accurate records separate from other records and not using money from a loan to one company to benefit another company.
Lida says his companies were based in the same place, but that's it.
James also says Joint Initiatives was undercapitalized, and Lida did not accurately represent the financial status of the company.
"They found Mr. Lida (liable) of fraud and negligent representation," James says of members of the jury.
Lida says the case never should have been before a jury.
"It's a very complicated issue," he says. "The jury, in my opinion, just didn't get it."
Lida isn't sure whether he's going to appeal. He expects to make a decision later this week.
"I've never not paid a debt," he says.
Putting a cork in it
Cafe Cork & Canape, which has been in business in Wichita since the late 1970s, is closing at the end of February.
"It's just a whole lot of things that have brought us to this point," owner Roxanne Filby says.
Her lease at Prairie Village at 13th and Woodlawn is up at the end of February.
"I don't want to sign another lengthy lease again," Filby says.
That's because her husband, former Sullivan Higdon & Sink employee Jeff Filby , is looking for work, and the couple may need to move.
"People are like, 'Thank God you have your business,' but I'm like, 'Yeah, but ... . It's not making much money.' "
Also, Filby says the business, which she's owned for nine years, would have to evolve if she were to keep it.
"To take it to the next level, I've got to do something differently."
That's even though her weekday lunch business is great. Catering is down substantially, though.
"That's a big part of the business," Filby says.
She says places such as Sam's Club and Subway sandwiches are hurting her.
"I really don't think people cater like they used to."
Filby says she'll still cater out of her house.
"I still enjoy what I do, but gosh, you just have to figure out a way to do it smarter, especially in this economy."
Filby is open to selling Cafe Cork & Canape if anyone is interested.
"It really has been a great business. It still is."
You don't say
"Two-and-a-half inches of blowing, dry snow — we call that 'occasional flurries.' "
—Wisconsin native Paul Brand , assessing Friday morning's snowy weather before speaking to the Wichita Business Coalition on Health Care