Judge orders Sousa’s Landscaping to hand over cash from asset sale to pay rent arrears
One of the island’s best-known landscaping businesses was ordered yesterday to hand over proceeds from asset sales to help to cover rent arrears.
A court heard that Sousa’s Landscape Management Company owed about $130,000 and it was hoped the money could be recovered if palm trees and a truck were sold.
Two Camp Ltd launched legal action in August when it asked for an “order of possession” of a Southampton property as well as a judgment on rental arrears that amounted to $91,000 “and continuing until possession is achieved”.
The case relates to land at the corner of Camp Hill Road and Middle Road, where Sousa’s ran a garden centre until earlier this year.
Jennifer Haworth, for Two Camp, told the Supreme Court yesterday: “The debt now, with costs included in it and taking into account the payment of $5,000 but also interest as well, is just over $130,000.”
She added: “We need to see some movement on this and to ensure that promises made before the court are taken quite seriously, and to have an order to set those out.”
The civil court heard that it was earlier indicated by Jeff Sousa, the president and founder of the landscaping business, that the sale of palm trees was expected to yield about $140,000, which would be used to repay the plaintiff, and if that did not occur then a minimum payment of $50,000 would be made.
Mr Sousa, a former One Bermuda Alliance MP, said yesterday that negotiations continued on the palm trees sale.
He added: “We are actively trying to seal that deal.”
Mr Sousa said the company had a crane truck that was unused for some time and that an offer made on it fell through.
He added: “That’s why we proposed the $50,000. We thought that would happen.”
Mr Sousa said two other companies were approached about the possible purchase of the vehicle and both were “very interested”.
He added that someone else was also expected to view the truck today.
Mr Sousa told the court the company was seeking between $50,000 and $60,000 for the vehicle and $60,000 to $70,000 for an associated permit.
Puisne Judge Larry Mussenden told him: “You need to be using your best efforts to get that resolved.”
He asked about the landscaping company’s monthly income.
Mr Sousa said: “We used to maintain Fairmont Southampton, for 20 years, and of course we’re no longer maintaining that.
“We do have a good relationship with the Fairmont Southampton. We have a depot there. We have millions of dollars of contracts with the company that’s looking to develop that.”
The iconic hotel shuttered in October 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic hit. A $376 million renovation programme is expected at the site and the House of Assembly heard last month that work to close the redevelopment deal continued “in earnest”.
Mr Sousa told the court yesterday: “In business, things can change overnight.”
He added that: “Losing that contract was obviously a major blow to the company, quite honestly.”
Mr Sousa said he was unable to provide information about the company’s current revenue.
Mr Justice Mussenden ordered Sousa’s to disclose information about the potential sales of the palm trees and truck as well as invoice and payment details related to the business for the past three months.
He added: “I will order that the proceeds of any sale of the assets, less reasonable sales expenses, be paid to plaintiff within seven days of receipt of funds.”
The case is expected to return to court next month.
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