A federal judge has closed the books on the four-year-old Dominic’s/Duke’s restaurant lawsuit after ruling that the attorney for former Dominic’s owner Anne B. Mantia is entitled to nearly $100,000 in legal fees.
It is unclear how much money, if any, that Lexington attorney James Morris, who represented Anne Mantia in the case, will collect as a result of the judge’s order. The two primary defendants in the case — Anne Mantia’s stepdaughter and former business partner Christie Mantia, and former Duke’s restaurant owner Reece Powers III — both have filed for bankruptcy.
U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Rose noted in his decision, saying that his order “with regard to these two defendants is subject to the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code.” The code allows those who file for bankrupcy protection to reduce or wipe away debts owed to most creditors.
The judge’s decision and termination of the case filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Dayton appear to mark the final chapter of a legal battle that began in April 2009, exposed an intense family feud and resulted in the court-ordered closing of Duke’s, a restaurant that was operating in West Carrollton.
Morris said he welcomed the judge’s decision, and said his client Anne Mantia “is pleased to have this matter completed and to be able to close this matter out and move on with her life.
“This has been a very long and difficult ordeal, and it has been extremely difficult to see the Dominic’s name sullied by a group of individuals who were attempting to get rich off of stealing the name and product of a long-standing Dayton landmark,” Morris said.
Christie Mantia has not attended the most recent court hearings in the civil lawsuit against her, nor was she represented by an attorney during the most recent proceedings. She could not be reached for comment Thursday. Powers also could not be reached for comment.
Anne Mantia filed the breach-of-contract and trademark-infringement lawsuit against her stepdaughter Christie, Powers and former Dominic’s chef Harry Lee less than a month after Christie Mantia told the Dayton Daily News that she and Powers were preparing to open a restaurant in West Carrollton using recipes and the former chef from Dominic’s. The restaurant had closed two years earlier.
Anne and Christie Mantia co-owned Dominic’s until 2005, when Christie agreed to a buyout in which she accepted $460,000 from her stepmother and agreed to not use the term “Dominic’s” in any future restaurant ventures. Dominic’s had been in business for 50 years when it closed in 2007 while under the sole ownership of Anne Mantia.
Powers went on to open a restaurant without Christie Mantia, and named the new restaurant Duke’s. Rose issued an order limiting Duke’s menu because of the ongoing lawsuit, and later ordered the restaurant shut down after ruling that Powers defied court orders.
Anne Mantia won a default judgment against her stepdaughter, Powers and Lee in March 2010, and in April 2013, the judge ordered Christie Mantia to pay Anne Mantia $486,776. The status of that award also is uncertain because of Christie Mantia’s bankruptcy filing.
Key events in Dominic’s case
2005: Christie Mantia agrees to turn over her partial ownership interest in Dominic’s restaurant to her stepmother, Anne B. Mantia, in exchange for $460,000 and an agreement that she not use the term “Dominic’s” in any future restaurant ventures.
2007: Dominic’s restaurant, under Anne Mantia’s sole ownership, closes after a 50-year run.
March 2009: Christie Mantia tells the Dayton Daily News that she and Reece Powers III are preparing to open a restaurant in West Carrollton using recipes and the former chef from Dominic’s.
April 2009: Anne Mantia files a trademark-infringement and breach-of-contract lawsuit against her stepdaughter, Powers and former Dominic’s chef Harry Lee
May 1, 2009: Powers opens the West Carrollton restaurant under the name “Duke’s” without Christie Mantia.
May 14, 2009: U.S. District Judge Thomas Rose orders Duke’s to shut down, ruling that Powers violated his orders.
June 15, 2009: Duke’s reopens under severe menu restrictions spelled out by the judge.
Sept. 1, 2009: Judge Rose orderd Duke’s to shut down “immediately,” ruling its owner has violated court orders.
Dec. 11, 2009: Reece Powers reopens Duke’s
March 29, 2010: For third and final time, Judge Rose orders Duke’s restaurant to be shut down, and also finds Powers to be in contempt of court.
March 2010: Anne Mantia wins default judgment against her stepdaughter, Powers and Lee
April 2013: Judge Rose orders Christie Mantia to pay Anne Mantia $486,776 as a result of breaching the terms of their buyout agreement.
June 2013: Judge Rose awards Ann Mantia’s attorney $99,352 in legal fees while noting that two defendants, Christie Mantia and Powers, have filed for bankruptcy. The judge also terminates the case.
Source: Dayton Daily News archives
Past coverage: We’ve covered the Dominics lawsuit for you the past four years. Read past articles at MyDaytonDailyNews.com.