Trial begins over Star Market’s south Huntsville store; hits snag

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A trial began Monday over a locally owned and operated grocery store chain and its future in south Huntsville.

However, after hours of testimony, much of it about an address, the trial was continued.

Star Market has been part of the Huntsville landscape for 70 years.  It currently operates four locations in Madison County: one in Five Points, one in Madison, one in Meridianville and one in south Huntsville.  That last location, at the corner of Bailey Cove Road and Weatherly Road, is at the center of the trial.

Star Market leases the property from John and James Hays.  The supermarket chain filed a lawsuit against the owners last year, claiming the Hays improperly terminated the store’s lease, sending Star Market a notice in April 2013 ordering it to vacate the premises.

An April 29, 2013 notice sent by John Hays says the failure by Star to renew its lease resulted in the company converting Star’s lease to a month-to-month arrangement. The letter said Star needed vacate the premises by May 31, 2013.

Star filed a lawsuit last June seeking to block the eviction and have the lease termed valid by the court.

The attorneys allege the owners were motivated by a desire to sell the property to Walmart.

The owners say Star Market sent the lease renewal notice to the wrong address and the lease expired, as a matter of law.

Star argues it received no notice of any problems with the renewal of its lease and it continued to pay its monthly rent into 2013 before receiving the eviction letter from John Hays.

Last month, Judge Chris Comer rejected a motion for summary judgment by the defendants clearing the way for this week’s bench trial.

Much of Monday’s testimony focused on whether the address Star Market sent its lease renewal notice to was the correct address or not.

Attorneys entered a mountain of exhibits as evidence, in the form of business records evidencing all business correspondences involving the Hays were sent and received from their office address at 10002 South Memorial Parkway – the office they have resided at since 2005.

Before the plaintiff’s lawyers rested, they stated they would like to review Monday’s court transcript when available in order to draw specific sections and items entered into evidence to Judge Comer’s attention.

Judge Comer put the case on hold, saying both parties would reconvene 14 days after they had received court transcripts.


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