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Civil lawsuits lead to indefinite closure of Negret Wine Company

Negret Wine Company was evicted from its downtown Hudson location in January. (photo by Rebecca Mariscal)

After months of civil lawsuits, the restaurant of Hudson-based Negret Wine Company located at 310 Second Street remains closed.

The battle started back on Sept. 29, 2016, when owner Vincent Negret and other members of the company filed a civil lawsuit in Dane County against former board members and building owners Barbara and Robert Butler.

The complaint, filed by attorney Kyle Hanson, comes after what Hanson said was mismanagement by the Butlers. The complaint alleges that the Butlers breached their duties as accountants to the company, made a poor hire that was a conflict of interest and cost the company money. Aside from those allegations, the complaint states Barbara Butler paid herself about $8,000.

Negret also alleges that the lease between the company and the Butlers was unfair and a conflict of interest, and therefore voidable. Citing common law, the complaint stated the company had a right to withhold future payments to the Butlers to offset what it was owed.

Overall, the complaint demanded compensation of more than $86,000.

After the initial complaint filed by Negret, the Butlers and attorney Jamie Johnson filed their own claim in St. Croix County, stating the company failed to pay rent of $5,100 on Sept. 26 and Oct. 10, as well as missing common area maintenance fees Sept. 30. The claim started the process for eviction.

In their response to the initial complaint, the Butlers denied that they served as accountant for the company and denied all other wrongdoing with the business. Their response alleged that the operation agreement had been changed to add duties to the Butlers after the fact.

The Butlers stated the lease was not unfair, but offered the market rate for a prime commercial space on a main street in downtown Hudson. They also denied that the lease was voidable and stated the company was in violation of the lease.

The Butlers alleged in their response that Negret's complaints were filed to delay eviction, as the company was late with rent payments since July, and missed payments, which began in September.

Johnson said the allegations from the company came without warning and led to a lot of unnecessary time in court and legal fees.

"The allegations in their lawsuit were never mentioned at all," Johnson said.

In addition to their response, the Butlers successfully filed for a change of venue to St. Croix County as the case was originally filed in Dane County. Negret's initial complaint stated the company operating agreement provided for litigation in Dane County, but the Butlers' response alleges Negret and company filed in Dane County to delay the eviction process.

On Jan. 6, the eviction was approved and writ of restitution was ordered. Negret's attorney Hanson said the locks on the building were changed overnight, and Negret Wine could not open that day and was forced to cancel reservations.

"The change of the locks really was a punch to the gut," Hanson said.

Negret initially asked for a stay of eviction but failed to pay the court-ordered rent of $5,100 Jan. 16. The stay was withdrawn and the eviction went into full effect.

Currently, no court date is scheduled in the initial complaint by Negret against the Butlers.

Hanson said Negret Wine Company is still selling wine online and hopes to reopen the restaurant either in the same location or at a new one.

"I want to see Vincent and his company succeed," Hanson said.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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