A Baltimore City Circuit Court judge on Wednesday dismissed lawsuits filed by four former Cross Street Market merchants who said the city should repay their moving and relocation expenses.
The current and former owners of Bruce Lee Wings, Baltimore’s Best Bar-B-Que, Cross 10 Grocery and Cross Street Seafood filed lawsuits in March seeking up to $250,000 in damages.
John C. Murphy, who is representing the former vendors, said he was disappointed with the outcome of the hearing but said his clients are going to appeal.
“These people are really hurting,” he said outside the courtroom.
The lawsuits claim the vendors were displaced from Cross Street Market as a “direct result of the rehabilitation of the market” that began this year. Baltimore Public Markets Corp. entered an agreement in 2016 with real estate development firm Caves Valley Partners to operate and redevelop the Federal Hill market.
The business owners say new terms set forth by Caves Valley made it difficult for them to continue operating at Cross Street Market. These terms included higher rents, decreased stall space and menu changes, according to the lawsuits.
Sara Gross, chief solicitor in the city's legal department, declined to comment.
Cross 10 Grocery owner Inkyung Lee said in the lawsuit that Caves Valley asked her to leave the market because her products — lottery tickets and cigarettes — “did not fit into the plans for the renovated market.”
Judge Barry G. Williams said each vendor made a “business decision” to leave the market.
“None of these people qualify as displaced persons,” Williams said during the hearing.
Murphy said he is representing three other Cross Street Market merchants who have also filed lawsuits against the city: Rosie's Posies Flowers and Gifts, Wireless One Inc. and Cheese Galore & More.
Wireless One’s lawsuit will be heard in the Court of Appeals in November, Murphy said.
Rosie's Posies Flowers and Gifts' lawsuit will also appear in the Court of Appeals, but a court date has not been scheduled yet. Murphy said he does not know if the florist’s case will be heard at the same time as the suits filed by Bruce Lee Wings, Baltimore’s Best Bar-B-Que, Cross 10 Grocery and Cross Street Seafood.
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Cheese Galore & More owner Sharon Johnson filed a lawsuit against the city in June. Her case has not appeared in Circuit Court yet.