Local Restaurant Investor Lawsuit Settled

A lawsuit involving, now, former investors, Steve Fernandez and Michele Jones, and the current owner of Fuel Woodfire Grill, Tio Gordos Cantina and Lake FX restaurants, Mike Taylor, has been settled and dismissed.

In a statement from Jones and Fernandez through attorney Timothy J. Lozen, the pair announced the termination of ownership interests as investors in the three Port Huron restaurants. The couple began investing in Fuel Woodfire Grill in January 2013 followed by Tio Gordos Cantina in 2015 and eventually Lake FX Grill in 2017. The decision came after gross mismanagement was discovered “upon filing a lawsuit against the Restaurants’ manager to obtain company records.” The mismanagement included not paying federal payroll taxes and Michigan unemployment compensation taxes for years in addition to untimely payments for business expenses. Michael Taylor is the named defendant in the settlement which cites “Taylor was at all times…manager of the companies and was solely responsible for the operations and financial affairs of the Companies.”

In the Settlement Agreement and dismissal order entered in St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 2019-002876-CB, Fernandez/ Jones transferred 100% of their interests in the companies to Taylor. The agreement also states that “Taylor and the Companies agree to release, indemnify, and hold harmless Fernandez/Jones from and against any and all losses, damages, liabilities, claims, actions, judgments, court costs and legal or other expenses” that presently exist or may occur in the future.

According to the Settlement and Release Agreement that was dated effective February 10, 2020, “As a result of Taylor’s mismanagement, the Companies are in serious financial trouble,” and “Until recently, Fernandez/Jones had no knowledge of Taylor’s mismanagement, the excessive liabilities, the hundreds of thousands of dollars of outstanding taxes and loans, or the precarious financial condition of the Companies.” As of Thursday afternoon, the restaurants were still in operation.