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Balls Hamburgers Is Suing its Landlord for $1 Million

The world of Dallas hamburgers is rife with intrigue. CultureMap brings us the story of Balls Hamburgers in Preston Hollow, which is getting in deep litigation with its landlord. A million clams deep. Carol Hobrecht, owner of Backbone Corporations/Balls Hamburger, and her business partner, JDBurger Dallas, are suing four entities that act as Balls' landlords for breach of contract and fraud.

The suit alleges that the four entities -- Preston Hollow Saticoy, Preston Hollow Indian School, Preston Hollow Westgate and Westwood Financial Corp. -- are trying to kick the tenants out of their shopping center to make room for more profitable new-comers. From the petition:

Defendants did that by not only misrepresenting material facts about an existing commercial lease to Plaintiffs but by engaging in acts to prohibit Hobrecht and Balls Hamburgers from operating their restaurant, attempting to strong-arm Hobrecht and Balls Hamburgers into executing a new commercial lease with prohibitive terms that they do not have to execute, by charging rent and expenses that are not due under the existing lease agreement, and by requiring that Balls Hamburgers make its restaurant open to inspection by other potential tenants.

The suit also alleges that the landlords' meddling sabotaged a deal by Hobrecht to sell Balls to JDBurger Dallas Partners, and the loss of that sale is what drove the suit past the million dollar marker.

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This Northwest Highway Balls is the last location of a chain that started in 1987. In May, Hobrecht received a new lease agreement that restricted advertising, raised the rent by 125 percent and gave the landlords final approval over the menu and hours of operation. The suit stipulates that this new lease is designed to "prevent not only Balls Hamburgers but also JDBurger and any potential purchaser of Balls from operating any type of retail restaurant business on the property."

Judge Martin Hoffman has appointed a mediator and scheduled a non-trial-by-jury for September 9, 2014. Lawyer Dorthea Vidal, representing the defendants, told CultureMap that they were currently working on filing a counter claim for trespassing (or maybe something else).

Meanwhile, the takeaway lesson is that it's never a good idea to strong-arm Balls.

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