A CASE OF friends-and-family financing gone bad is headed to a courtroom in Steele County, Minnesota.
Three Asian American hotel investors are suing a fourth investor in connection with a Microtel Hotel business in Owatonna, Minnesota. The county court has set a March 13 trial date for the civil case initially filed in February 2016.
Ramanlal K. Patel of Owatonna, Chetahkumar P. Patel of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Rajnikant K. Patel of Macon, Georgia, are suing Jayvadan “Jay” R. Patel, manager of the economy-branded property, to obtain details of the troubled business’s finances, recoup their losses and sell the hotel.
Ramanlal K. Patel is the majority owner of Saki Swarup LLC, doing business as Microtel Inn & Suites in Owatonna. He owns 55 percent of the company, according to court documents. Each of the other investors, including the defendant, owns 15 percent of the business. Saki Swarup was formed in 2007 to purchase the 65-room property.
Court documents say both Ramanlal Patel and Jay Patel reside at the hotel’s address.
The three investors reportedly began to suspect Jay Patel of misusing or wasting the company’s funds in early 2015 when he did not provide 2014 financial statements, an annual practice.
The plaintiffs accused Jay Patel of withholding financial information in May 2015 after Jay did not follow through on their request for business records.
Several months later Jay Patel provided some records but excluded financial statements. In the suit, the three plaintiffs say they need the documentation to determine the financial health of the hotel’s business.
In October 2015, Jay Patel reportedly advised his co-investors the hotel was running out of money. It could not pay $30,000 in franchise fees and $20,000 in federal taxes.
The three co-investors contributed money to cover the losses and they decided to put the hotel on the market. However, the lawsuit filing states, the broker cannot list the property until Jay Patel signs the agreement, which he has refused to do.
In December 2015, Jay Patel notified his partners the IRS had filed a lien against the hotel’s account with U.S. Bank for failure to pay back taxes. The plaintiffs contend this was the first time they learned of the situation.
A year later, Jay Patel informed his partners Wyndham Hotel Group had served Saki Swarup LLC with a notice of default for failure to pay the franchise fee.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs have asked the court to order Jay Patel to produce past business records, dissolve Saki Swarup LLC and force the sale of the hotel. They also request that Jay Patel pay financial damages, which will be determined by the court.
According to county court records, a trial over the case has been canceled twice, once in November 2016 and again in August. This time, a pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 12 with a tentative trial date of March 13.