Appeals court upholds Little Italy housing lawsuit's dismissal Plans for Bagby building sparked legal dispute

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Maryland Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court decision dismissing a lawsuit filed by the owner of the Bagby building, who sought $5 million in damages from the Little Italy Community Organization and two Little Italy residents for opposing his development plans.

One Thousand Fleet Limited Partnership, which owns the Bagby building and is headed by Baltimore developer Patrick Turner, had sued LICO and Little Italy residents John Guerriero and Richard Ingrao, alleging malicious use of process and abuse of process.

The Court of Special Appeals yesterday sided with a Baltimore circuit judge, who ruled that Fleet failed to show that it sustained the damages to support its allegations. The law states that a person or company must suffer arrest or the seizure of property to sustain allegations of abuse of process or malicious use of process, the court decision says.

Turner had planned to convert the former Bagby Furniture Co. warehouse at at Exeter and Fleet streets into 57 loft apartments, of which 10 were to be for moderate-income tenants. Although the community association initially supported the project, it withdrew that support once the plans for the lower-priced apartments became public.

Guerriero had offered to purchase the building for $300,000, which was turned down in favor of the $1 million tendered by Fleet. The community association and Ingrao filed four lawsuits against Baltimore's mayor, City Council and zoning board seeking to block the development.

Those suits were ultimately dismissed, but Fleet alleged that it sustained monetary damages due to the delay of the project, loss of rent and deposit money, and increased construction, legal and financing costs.

The project eventually fell apart when Fleet's state and federal financing assistance was withdrawn. State officials cited community opposition as a factor in their decision not to honor financing commitments.

Fleet filed suit in June 1995 against LICO, Guerriero and Ingrao in Baltimore Circuit Court. A judge dismissed the suit and Fleet filed an appeal, prompting yesterday's ruling.

Pub Date: 6/13/97

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