PARIS – The owner of the Opera House in Norway has fired back at two businesses filing suit against him, arguing that the proprietors acted in bad faith by taking the matter to court.

Barry Mazzaglia, of Bitim Enterprises Inc. in Londonderry, N.H., states in an objection to the businesses’ complaints that neither suffered considerable damage when the roof on the three-story building partially collapsed and a pipe burst, sending water down into the first floor retail areas last September. The Colonial Coffee Shoppe and Beauty and Beyond Inc. both vacated the building.

Attorney Theodore Kurtz has filed a civil suit in Oxford County Superior Court on behalf of Albina Massimino of Beauty and Beyond, and Elsie Thurlow of the Colonial Coffee Shoppe. The suit charges Bitim Enterprises with negligence, fraud, breach of contract, and lessor liability, stating that the company knew of dangerous conditions in the building and did not inform the tenants.

Mazzaglia said the acts of the two businesses “so seriously interfered with the rights of the defendant and in so doing brought detriment to their name and business that permanent harm has resulted.”

Mazzaglia has filed counterclaims against both businesses, charging wrongdoing on their part. He states that the coffee shop suffered “minimal to no damage” in the flooding, and accuses Thurlow of stealing from the premises.

“The plaintiff removed all material and equipment, even equipment which was not hers!” states Mazzaglia. “After the police made her people return some of the stolen equipment, she returned afterwards and stole the equipment without authority.”

Chief Robert Federico of the Norway Police Department said Friday that the department had determined the complaint to be a civil issue.

Moreover, Mazzaglia also alleges that the coffee shop was entering its final days when the flooding occurred.

“Since the defendant lease expired in 30 days from when [Thurlow] moved out and she made no attempt to renew it, she had no intention of continuing her business,” he stated. “The defendant had issues with the way the business was operating and rent payments being made and had no intention of renewing lease.”

Mazzaglia states that Massimino “has benefited in part by payments made to date,” and entered into an agreement with Bitim Enterprises to “offset any harm caused.” The beauty shop was relocated for a time to a Mazzaglia-owned storefront in Paris before moving to Bridgton.

“At some point she was coerced out of and reversed her agreement in favor of this suit,” Mazzaglia stated.

He also stated that while the shop sustained damage, Massimino’s inventory was not affected and containers that were damaged were replaced by vendors at no cost.

Thurlow has said she suffered $25,000 in losses, while Massimino has said she lost $75,000.

A judge has also granted Kurtz’s motion for attachment and trustee process on the property, which states that the businesses are likely to recover judgment greater than or equal to the sum of the attachment. The amount was reduced from the requested $200,000 to $75,000 in the case of Massimino and $100,000 to $25,000 in the case of Thurlow.

According to the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure, the attached property would yield the requested amount if sold to satisfy judgment. The rules also state that the court may enter an order of attachment if the defendant in the suit fails to file opposition materials.

Kurtz has also motioned for a default judgment, saying Mazzaglia has failed to plead or defend in the suits.

Mazzaglia stated that the delay in his response arose because the court materials were sent to the wrong address, and that the businesses knew his correct address from mailing rent checks. He opposes the attachment process, saying both tenants were required to have insurance on their businesses.

According to published reports, both business owners had insurance, and Mazzaglia had no insurance on the Opera House.

Neither Kurtz nor Mazzaglia were available for comment Friday.

The 1894 three-story brick building on Main Street, with its E. Howard clock encased in a tower, dominates the downtown business and historic district. It was purchased by Mazzaglia in 2003 for $225,000 and is on the Most Endangered Historic Properties list by Maine Preservation of Portland


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