Cape schools settle lawsuit over Schultz building for $300,000

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Two years of court battles and a $300,000 settlement later, the Cape Girardeau School District is once again the owner of L.J. Schultz School.

In November 2003, a judge ruled that a $2 million contract between the district and Ray Bax of RMB Inc.'s Bax Construction in Jefferson City for the property was valid and transferred the title to Bax.

According to Joe Russell, the district's attorney, Bax appealed that ruling and began bankruptcy proceedings that would have prevented the district from receiving the $2 million.

Russell said district officials settled the lawsuit with RMB Inc. for $300,000 in July and that the title to the property was transferred back to the district.

"The district did investigate Mr. Bax's financial situation, and then we were able to work out a settlement," Russell said.

Last week in a closed session meeting, the Cape Girardeau School Board voted to pay a partial commission for the building to real estate agent Kerry Johnson, who was responsible for the contract with RMB Inc. The district based the commission on the $300,000 settlement minus the costs incurred by the district in the lawsuit, such as court fees.

"As a legal issue and on the advice of our attorney, we felt we owed that commission," said superintendent Mark Bowles.

Bax originally offered to buy the brick school at 101 S. Pacific St. in January 2002 with plans to renovate the building into office space for three state agencies in downtown Cape Girardeau. However, Bax lost the bid for the office space to a proposal by Prost Builders of Jefferson City, which is renovating the Marquette Hotel on Broadway.

He attempted to withdraw his contract with the school district, and the school board in turn filed a lawsuit for $2 million as well as damages for legal fees and interest.

The Schultz building is again on the market, listed with Thomas Meyer Real Estate Co. Russell said the real estate agent has had a few inquiries about the property, but had no further information about its status.

335-6611, extension 128

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