Court order prevents owner from stepping foot inside his own bar

Steve Korris Sep. 7, 2007, 12:25am

Gary Lutman and former wife Sherry Lutman each owns 45 percent of Sharky's Sports Bar in Collinsville. She gets the keys to the place, but he can't step foot inside.

Madison County Associate Judge Ellar Duff signed a temporary restraining order in July to keep Gary Lutman off the premises.

Sherry Lutman alleged in seeking the order that Gary Lutman poured himself drinks, gave directions to employees and otherwise involved himself in the business.

Gary Lutman asked Duff to reconsider, but in August she declined to do so.

Gary and Sherry married in 1982. They ran Sharky's together, as 90 percent owners. Richard Gibson owned the other 10 percent.

In 2000, Gary and Sherry divorced. Their settlement agreement provided that each would retain 45 percent ownership interest in Sharky's.

They agreed that, "…each party shall continue to participate in the operation, running, maintenance and management of all affairs related to said business in the same manner as they had before this marital settlement agreement was entered."

For a few years they got along fine. But one day Sherry told Gary she and Gibson wanted him to stay away.

In April 2006, Sherry and Gibson removed Gary as president and treasurer and gave both positions to Sherry.

They adopted a provision prohibiting Gary from entry to the premises and authorized legal action to remove Gary from the premises and the operation.

Gary moved more quickly. He sued Sherry and Gibson in May 2006, in chancery court.

In June 2006 Sherry caught up, filing a counterclaim against Gary.

The case advanced slowly until this June 26, when Sherry and Gibson moved for a temporary restraining order.

Their attorney, Steven Giacoletto of Collinsville, wrote that in the past seven days Gary had been present at Sharky's.

He wrote that Gary's conduct caused conflict that necessitated the involvement of Maryville police and Madison County state's attorney.

He wrote that Sherry and Gibson would be irreparably harmed if Gary was not prohibited from the premises or operation.

Duff immediately granted the order, effective until a July 5 hearing.

In Madison County, unelected associate judges hear chancery suits.

Gary's attorney, Charles Douglas of Glen Carbon, denied that his conduct caused conflict or necessitated involvement of police or state's attorney, "although there was participation of those entities…"

"Sherry violated the terms of the divorce settlement," Douglas wrote.

"It calls for them to continue operating and managing Sharky's as they had before the divorce.

"The defendants seriously mismanaged the business through lost profits, poor employee management, poor cost and cash control, improper accounting, fraud, and becoming intoxicated while working."

Duff heard arguments July 5 and extended the restraining order.

On July 20 Gary moved for reconsideration.

Douglas wrote, "…the agreement, in the context of the divorce, was a way for Gary and Sherry to protect themselves from each other."

Duff denied reconsideration on Aug. 16.

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