Three Si Casa Flores restaurants in Jackson County are shuttered, pending court-ordered liquidation proceedings.
The Mexican food restaurants operated by Gregorio Martinez Rodriguez at Blue Sky Plaza and Larson Creek Plaza in Medford, and at the Shoppes at Exit 24 in Phoenix, are locked. A posting on the door at one location said removing property and assets from the premises is a federal offense and refers questions to local bankruptcy trustee Candace Amborn's office telephone number.
Rodriguez filed March 24, 2015, for Chapter 11 court protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of Oregon. The filing stated both assets and debts ranging between $1 million and $10 million. Although hundreds of filings were made with presiding Judge Thomas M. Renn, no reorganization plan was filed.
On Wednesday, Renn met with Rebecca Kamitusuka, attorney for the U.S. Trustee, and Keith Boyd, Rodriguez's attorney, before converting the bankruptcy to Chapter 7, essentially signaling an end to the business.
Boyd said the restaurants were shuttered Thursday, adding that Amborn, as trustee, legally could have kept the business open. Telephone calls and emails to Amborn were not returned on Friday.
Renn ordered Rodriguez within two weeks to provide schedules and a statement of debts incurred after the Chapter 11 filing.
Rodriguez's financial difficulties began in 2011, when a sexual harassment suit was filed against him and restaurant manager Juan Flores. In July 2012, a U.S. District Court jury found Leo Esquivel’s civil rights had been violated when the owners created a hostile work environment by subjecting Esquivel to unwanted sexual conduct in the workplace, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The court awarded Esquivel $200,000. Subsequent out-of-court settlements were reached with restaurant employees Francisco Flores and Eduardo Lopez. After $100,000 of the original judgment was paid to Esquivel, the remaining settlement was to be in installments. But Esquivel received no further payments, and Flores and Lopez received nothing. Bankruptcy court filings showed that a collective $500,000 remains unpaid.
Medford lawyer Bob Robertson, who represented the three employees, lamented the restaurants' fate, putting about 100 employees out of work.
"There should have never been a bankruptcy," Robertson said. "They were very successful restaurants."
Creditors now have until Jan. 14, 2018, to file claims.
A creditors meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 16, at the U.S. Courthouse, 310 W. Sixth St., Medford. Debtors are required to attend such meetings to be questioned under oath.
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.