The Oregon Supreme Court recently affirmed a decision by the Bureau of Labor & Industries (“BOLI”) holding a successor business owner liable for the unpaid wages of its predecessor. Blachana, LLC v. Bureau of Labor & Indus., No. S060789 (Or Jan. 16, 2014).
The “Portsmouth Club” operated in north Portland for decades. Five different businesses had operated a bar and restaurant in the same location—referred to continually as the “Portsmouth Club” by customers—since 1940. In 2005, the property was owned by CP Underhill, LLC (“CPU”), which operated a bar called the “Portsmouth Club” and a restaurant called “Mama’s BBQ.” CPU was owned and managed by a mother and son, Janet and Chris Penner. The business offered food and drinks and provided live music as entertainment. In February 2005, CPU decided to sell the business and lease the building to NW Sportsbar Inc. (“NW”). NW entered into a five-year lease with CPU and an agreement to buy CPU’s inventory for $50,000 and the goodwill of the Portsmouth Club for $285,000.