City to hire out-of-state attorney to collect $31K
Rockland — Rockland City Attorney Kevin Beal has been authorized to hire a Massachusetts attorney to pursue a Knox County Superior Court default judgment against a former lobster buyer.
Former Rockland Lobster Co., LLC., proprietor Antonio Bussone of Manchester By the Sea, Mass. owes the city more than $31,000, Beal said May 15.
Beal said he plans to locate a Massachusetts attorney within a few weeks who specializes in collections to pursue Bussone's proprietary as well as personal assets.
Bussone owes the city $31,173 plus interest in unpaid lobster buyer station, bait dealer, and mobile bait dealer permit fees, storage, in addition to utility fees incurred between January and June 2012 from operations at the city's Municipal Fish Pier.
The default judgment, entered July 15, 2013, states that Bussone failed to comply with the court's orders requiring that he participate in mediation, submit to a deposition, and respond to written discovery requests.
The now-defunct Live Lobster Co., Inc., of Chelsea, Mass., which was Bussone's main company in Massachusetts, is also named in the default judgment. Rockland Lobster was its local affiliate/subsidiary, and according to the city's complaint filed Nov. 19, 2012, Bussone and his businesses engaged in lobster buying and bait selling at the Municipal Fish Pier from 2005 through part of 2012. He was the sole owner of both businesses.
Bussone does not own assets in Maine, but Beal said the city “anticipates at least a partial recovery” of what is owed. Under the legal theory of personal liability, the court has ruled that the city can pursue Bussone's personal assets, Beal said. Bussone is a Massachusetts homeowner.
“In other words, we sought to pierce the corporate veil and reach the owner of the corporation,” Beal said.
The city is one of numerous entities who have sued Bussone for amounts totaling into the millions of dollars. According to an April 2012 article in MaineBiz, TD Bank froze Live Lobster's checking accounts and sued him for $3.4 million, alleging that Bussone was not paying his creditors and violated agreements with the bank. Soon after, his last fees owed to the city of Rockland went unpaid after coming due July 5, 2012.
Beal said another lobster buyer stepped in so that the city did not lose its entire 2012 lobster buying season.
Efforts to reach Bussone for comment were unsuccessful.
Courier Publications reporter Larry Di Giovanni can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.