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updated: 7/20/2011 5:01 PM

St. Charles tobacco shop feud with landlord heats up

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A dispute between a St. Charles tobacco shop and its landlord could be decided by a judge next month or head to trial.

Gintaras, LLC., which owns the Bull & Bear, 1 W. Illinois St., sued ShoDeen Management in March to have a judge uphold a 1997 lease that permits smoking "in and on the premises."

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The Geneva-based ShoDeen sent the shop owner a letter the month before complaining about the smoke escaping the tobacco shop and gave the owner 20 days to fix it.

The case was set for a bench trial this week until attorneys for Gintaras filed a motion for summary judgment by Judge Robert Mueller on the lease itself.

"The law simply does not allow for nor require factual interpretation. The language of the lease is unambiguous," argued Gintaras attorney Tracy Stevenson in a motion filed this month. "As a matter of law, tobacco or cigar smoke cannot be deemed an objectionable odor or nuisance under the express terms of the contract."

Attorneys for Shodeen don't believe Gintaras is entitled to a summary judgment and will argue against it.

Shodeen attorneys are due next week to submit their written arguments to Mueller, who will decide on Aug. 31 whether to rule on the case or have it go to trial.

"We have the duty to keep smoke out of the common area of the building. That's what we're trying to do. It's an unfortunate situation," said Robert Minetz, attorney for Shodeen.

The Bear & Bull has installed an exhaust fan and special air filters to minimize smoke odors in and around the shop.

Some nearby businesses have complained that smoke odors are emanating from the shop, which has been in business since 1995.

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