Lawsuit claims lobster company took advantage of man's dementia

By Stephen Betts | Jul 16, 2019

Rockland — The retired longtime owner of one of the region's largest lobster dealerships is accusing the company that bought his Spruce Head Island business eight years ago of taking advantage of his dementia to negotiate a revised lease agreement.

A lawsuit on behalf of William Atwood, 81, of Owls Head, was filed June 12 in Knox County Court against Maine Lobster and Processing LLC.

Atwood sold his businesses -- Atwood Lobster and Warnershores LLC -- to Maine Lobster and Processing LLC in May 2011. Maine Lobster is part of a larger company, Mazzetta Lobster Company LLC.

Mazzetta is one of the largest importers and producers of shrimp, mussels, lobsters, crab and fin fish, handling more than 100 million pounds of finished seafood product each year, according to the company's website.

Mazetta's Atwood Lobster facility on Spruce Head Island in South Thomaston supplies lobster to its processing plants in Canada. A portion of the product is held at the facility and sold as live product.

The lawsuit filed by William Atwood alleges that Maine Lobster began approaching Atwood to amend the lease agreement for land and a building William Atwood owns in Tenants Harbor not acquired during the 2011 sale.

His wife, Sandra Atwood, became aware of the attempts and notified the company that it was not to try to get him to sign anything unless it was first reviewed by her and his attorney. The company's representatives persisted, however, and William Atwood signed an amended lease agreement in March 2015, according to the lawsuit.

"After Mr. Atwood realized the significance of the Amendment that he signed, he has experienced shock, dismay and humiliation that he had been taken advantage of," the lawsuit states.

The amendment expanded the amount of the building covered under the lease, according to the lawsuit, and prohibited Atwood from using the remainder of his Tenants Harbor property for any lobster-related business that could compete against Maine Lobster.

The lawsuit further claims that the premises leased by Maine Lobster have fallen into disrepair through gross negligence by the company.

Atwood, through representatives, has tried to negotiate a resolution with Maine Lobster and Processing LLC., according to the lawsuit. William Atwood is represented by attorney Patrick Mellor of Rockland.

Atwood seeks to have the court void the amended lease, declare that the company is trespassing, that the company had breached the contract, that it has been unjustly enriched, and created a nuisance.

An email was sent Monday, July 15, to attorney Stephen Segal of Portland, who represents Maine Lobster, seeking comment. There were no immediate response.

This is the third lawsuit against Maine Lobster during the past year in Knox County Court.

In July 2018, Corey Thompson, the former general manager of the Spruce Head Island seafood company, claimed he was fired after raising concerns to the president of the parent corporation about illegal actions that included repackaging expired seafood as fresh.

The company denied the allegations. The lawsuit was dismissed in April 2019 without terms of any agreement being released.

And in February 2019, Redeemed Lobster Company Inc. and its principal owner, Brian Rockett, of Owls Head, filed a lawsuit against Maine Lobster and Mazzetta, claiming it has failed to compensate him for nearly $26,000 in lobsters he provided to the company.

The company has denied wrongdoing in the lawsuit brought by Rockett.

Redeemed Lobster and Maine Lobster had mediation scheduled for June 26. No report on that mediation has been filed with the court.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jul 16, 2019 14:20

Sounds like Senior abuse here! Sad!



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