Agreement keeps Fairfield Inn off auction block

Wednesday, October 5, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:25 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A business owner will keep his hotel after authorities planned to sell it in order to pay for legal damages stemming from a sexual harassment lawsuit.

The auction on the steps of the Boone County Courthouse that would have sold the Fairfield Inn to the highest bidder at 1:30 p.m. today was canceled.

An attorney for hotel owner George Pate of Columbia Hotels Inc. had filed a motion to stop the sale of the property by the Boone County Sheriff’s Department. Boone County Circuit Court Judge Ellen Roper denied that motion.

A sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by Snezana Kostic in November 2002 against Columbia Hotels Inc. Kostic was employed at the hotel for more than three years. A jury awarded her nearly $236,000 in May 2005. Collecting a judgment against a corporation such as Columbia Hotels Inc. sometimes includes proceedings that foreclose on real estate, such as Fairfield Inn, according to Kostic’s attorney Marvin Tofle.

Attorneys for the two parties reached an agreement yesterday for an undisclosed amount to keep the 80-room hotel located at 2904 Clark Lane off the auction block.

“If everything goes OK, (Tofle) will file a satisfaction of judgment and the sheriff will release the levee against the property,” said Angela Ayers of the Sheriff’s Department.

Tofle said Columbia Hotels Inc. will have nine months to pay damages to Kostic.

“When people owe money, they’ll do whatever they can to get out of it. The day before the sale, (they) got serious about settlement,” Tofle said.

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