Office fire on Patterson sparks lawsuit between former neighbors

10615 Patterson Ave

10615 Patterson Ave. as seen just after the fire. (BizSense file)

The fire at a western Henrico office building that displaced several local small businesses has now ignited a legal battle over who’s to blame for the blaze.

A lawsuit was filed last month by bow-making company Annie Mae & Wes against massage clinic Bodhi Center, its former building mate at 10615 Patterson Ave. in the Canterbury Green retail and office strip center.

Annie Mae & Wes, which makes hair bows for cheerleaders and last year was among the region’s fastest-growing companies, claims Bodhi caused the January fire that destroyed the building and forced the two businesses and several of their neighbors to search for new homes.

The four-page complaint filed April 23 claims a Bodhi employee left chemical-soaked towels out overnight upon closing on Jan. 22. The towels then allegedly “spontaneously combusted and caught fire” between that evening and early the next morning Jan. 23.

As a result, Annie Mae states in the lawsuit that all its property within the building was destroyed. The company was unable to operate for a time and forced to relocate and purchase new equipment and supplies.

The case claims one count of negligence against Bodhi, arguing it failed to properly clean and store the towels and should have known the unattended chemicals were a fire hazard.

Annie Mae & Wes seeks $170,000 in damages from Bodhi, accounting for the replacement of its personal property, moving expenses and increased rent at its new office, as well as repayment for business interruption and lost revenue.

Representatives for Bodhi Center could not be reached for comment. An attorney has not yet been entered in the lawsuit for Bodhi Center, according to court records.

Annie Mae & Wes is represented in the case by attorneys John Erbach, Kasey Hoare and Nancy Simpson of Spotts Fain. Erbach declined to comment when reached last week.

precisionprintpatterson

Precision Print & Copy’s old space on Patterson remains fenced off and awaits a date with demolition. (BizSense file)

A spokesman for the Henrico County Fire Department said last week it was unable to determine the cause of the fire, which means Annie Mae & Wes’s case is likely based on a determination by the company’s insurer. However, that isn’t stated explicitly in the lawsuit.

The Henrico Fire spokesman said the department may investigate the matter further if additional information is found by the various insurance companies involved.

Brady Zizzo, the owner of Annie Mae & Wes, previously told BizSense the company had relocated farther west down Patterson and had reopened and was hopeful to regain the momentum it had last year.

Several other former tenants from the building have also since relocated and said they’re paying more in rent than they were in the previous space.

The destroyed building and the larger Canterbury Green center is owned by locally based The Wilton Companies. The company previously said it would look to rebuild on the site of the fire but hadn’t yet moved forward with any plans.

POSTED IN Law

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