Efforts to collect money from Zinno’s Restaurant moved forward on Nov. 15, when bassist Sean Smith won a judgement for $1,179.37 against two of the restaurant’s owners in Small Claims Court. Zinno’s stiffed Smith and other Local 802 members by not paying them for performances.
Smith had won a judgement against Zinno’s Restaurant Corporation in early September, but soon discovered that the business’ coffers were empty. With the union’s help, he then went after the owners themselves. This involved “piercing the corporate veil” – a legal term that refers to finding the people behind the business. If the owners of a corporation don’t follow a certain protocol – for instance, by failing to file required papers with the state – then the individuals who own the corporation can be held personally liable.
An arbitrator agreed with the union’s assertion that Zinno’s is a closely-held corporation and the business’ owners are individually responsible for unpaid debts. The judgement was against Frederick Martini and Robert Perazzo, who apparently co-own Zinno’s Restaurant Corporation. The restaurant’s doors have been closed for about two months, but it is still not clear whether the corporation has actually filed for bankruptcy.
Although the arbitrator’s decision cannot be appealed, one of the parties has filed a request to reopen the case because he was not present for the original hearing. The court will determine whether or not Frederick Martini had a good excuse for not appearing at the original date and if the case should be heard again.
John Hicks, Joanne Brackeen, and Cecil McBee are other Local 802 members who were not paid for performances at Zinno’s.
Local 802 attorney Harvey Mars and Senior Organizer Mikael Elsila assisted Sean Smith in this case.