Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

November 2, 2012

Dry-clean building buyer suing McFall

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The newest owner of ruined 316 Willow St. wants the sale voided, and all of the property’s problems handed back to the guy who gave it to him for a buck.

Eddie Person filed a lawsuit against Patrick S. McFall in state Supreme Court on Wednesday.

McFall, the former owner-operator of Peters Dry Cleaning at 316 Willow, sold the building and land to Person this past June, according to property records on file in the county clerk’s office.

McFall did so days ahead of his sentencing, in Lockport City Court, on a building code violation. For months he’d been fighting off attempts by the building inspection department to make him responsible for construction debris on the property — the result when a portion of the dry cleaning facility collapsed this past December — and had been found guilty of a sanitary violation.

Before sentencing, McFall’s attorney in the case, Jon Ross Wilson, appealed to the judge to show leniency in sentencing because McFall was attempting amends by selling the property to a local man who, Wilson said, had a plan to remediate 316 Willow and transform it into a residence.

That man was Person, and he claims in his suit that McFall transferred ownership to him under dishonest circumstances. He’s asking a judge to void the sale due to “fraud and misrepresentation” — and give the deed to 316 Willow back to McFall.

“Mr. McFall took advantage of somebody who’s illiterate and poor, in order to dump the building,” Person’s attorney, Brian J. Hutchison, said. “He omitted certain (facts) about the property with the intention of tricking Eddie.”

At the time of the transaction, 316 Willow was saddled with numerous legal and financial problems: Over $38,000 in property taxes, water and sewer charges were owed to the city; the construction debris had tested positive for asbestos content; other parts of the property were known to be contaminated by PCE, a toxic dry-cleaning chemical, and were subject to a pending state Superfund cleanup; and McFall had quit paying the mortgage on the property.

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