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Insurers suing for damages at Pazo, 180s

Jerry Brady has been in the commercial kitchen design business for almost 40 years. He’s worked with restaurant owner Foreman Wolf on many of its popular and critically acclaimed Baltimore establishments, including Charleston, Petit Louis Bistro and Pazo.

Last week, he was hit with lawsuits for the first time for his work, stemming from a 2010 fire at Pazo in Fells Point.

Insurance companies for Pazo and 180s LLC, a maker of athletic apparel and accessories in the same building as Pazo, are seeking nearly $700,000 from Brady and his Finksburg-based company, Food Service Designs.

The cases are the latest in a series of lawsuits filed since February by insurance companies against multiple businesses that had a role in the construction of Pazo’s kitchen. The insurer for the owner of the building also filed suit last month in Baltimore City Circuit Court. All of the cases are in the process of being consolidated, with a trial scheduled for April, according to court records.

Joseph C. Bevins, a Philadelphia lawyer for Pazo insurer Selective Way Insurance Co., declined to comment on the litigation. Peter J. Basile, a shareholder at Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew P.A. in Baltimore representing 180s insurer Lexington Insurance Co., did not return requests for comment.

The October 2010 fire at Pazo, in the 1400 block of Aliceanna Street, was caused by faulty duct work leading from the restaurant’s wood-burning stove to its roof, according to court documents. The fire forced the Mediterranean restaurant to close for several days, according to news reports at the time.

Selective paid approximately $195,000 to cover “the damages to the restaurant and business interruption costs” at Pazo, its lawsuit states.

180s, around the corner from Pazo in the 700 block of South Caroline Street, “sustained damages, including property damage and loss of business,” according to Lexington’s lawsuit. Lexington did not quantify the damages to 180s but seeks $500,000 in its lawsuit.

“Defendant Brady owed 180s and others a duty to act reasonably and prudently in designing, constructing, installing, maintaining and/or repairing the duct and filter system for the wood burning stove at Pazo,” the complaint states.

That was news to Brady when reached by phone Friday at his office in Finksburg.

“I had nothing to do with the duct work,” he said, adding the wood-burning stove was a “very unique project.”

Brady, who had not seen the lawsuits, said he was hired by the builder to design the kitchen and create the specifications. His plans were then passed along to the architect and engineer.

“It’s upsetting and unsettling to know,” Brady said of being named in the lawsuits.

Other defendants named in the related lawsuits include Baltimore-based Clean Air Hearing and Air Conditioning Co. Inc.; Hencken & Gaines Inc., the Cockeysville-based general contractor; J.L.R. Design Consultants Inc., the Bel Air-based mechanical contractor; and Virginia-based Alto-Hartley Food Service Inc., the kitchen equipment contractor.