May 23, 2018
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Diva’s shuts down after landlord evicts owner

John Clarke Russ | BDN
John Clarke Russ | BDN
Diva's Gentleman's Club owner Diane Cormier stands in the performers' changing area of her Bangor nightclub in October 2010.
By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — An 18-month legal battle between Diva’s Gentleman’s Club owner Diane Cormier and her landlord has resulted in her eviction from the club location at 190 Harlow St.

Officers from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department escorted Cormier off the premises Wednesday after she loaded personal possessions and equipment into a U-Haul trailer parked in the front parking lot.

“At 6 p.m. last night the Sheriff escorted her off the property, we changed the locks, and locked the building,” said landlord Tom Brann of Hampden on Thursday.

The eviction process resulted from failure to pay rent, Brann said.

“She’s been there three years and she’s never been caught up on the rent,” said Brann. “Initially it was because she was spending money on renovations and would be able to pay the rent after opening, then it was other expenses cutting into things. Most recently, she’s bounced three checks.”

Brann finally prevailed in his most recent attempt to evict Cormier only after she was unable to present a check for the disputed back rent to a judge during a case hearing last week.

“We won once before on the merits and I think we would have won this time, but the problem is the current statutes,” said Kirk Bloomer, Cormier’s attorney. “They claimed she owed $6,800 in rent at this time. The way the statute works for commercial landlords and tenants is the tenant must pay in court the disputed amount before presenting a defense.

“She was unable to come to court with that amount and because of that, we weren’t able to present a case, and you lose that way.”

Attempts to reach Cormier by phone were unsuccessful. Calls to Diva’s were answered by a prerecorded phone company message saying, “We’re sorry. All circuits are busy now.”

It’s unknown if Cormier, who has operated her exotic dancing business in Bangor for 14 years — first on State Street and then on Harlow starting in 2008 — plans to reopen in another location.

“Whether she’s going to open shop temporarily, I have no idea at this time,” said Bloomer. “She does have potential causes of action for other things that have transpired that we’re going to explore.”

Cormier’s rental space encompassed 4,100 square feet and took up much of the right side of the street level portion of the property. An adjoining 3,000-square-foot space and a 7,100-square-foot space one floor down have been unoccupied. Diversified Ink tattoo parlor continues to operate in a separate space in the building.

Brann, who has owned the property since 2005, may not have to wait long for a new tenant, and may get to fill all three spaces at the same time.

“We’re showing it to someone this [Thursday] afternoon. The party we’re showing it to now is interested in both parcels, operating an upscale gentleman’s club and restaurant in the street level space and possibly renting the downstairs and putting in a nightclub.”

Brann gave Cormier a June 30, 2010, deadline to leave voluntarily and not be held financially liable for the remainder of her lease. Cormier opted not to leave and tried to work out a payment arrangement.

The eviction was tossed out of court in October on what lawyers representing both Brann and Cormier agreed was a legal technicality. Brann initiated eviction proceedings without a lawyer, and since limited liability corporations must use attorneys for such actions, the case was dismissed.

A second eviction attempt was staved off in January when a judge ruled in Cormier’s favor after finding that Cormier was not negligent and Brann did not sufficiently prove his claims against her.

Cormier has continued to run her business despite several legal battles with the city of Bangor over nudity and alcohol ordinance restrictions.

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