What do you do when you want to sue someone, but you can't find them?

Tape legal documents to their former place of business, and mail the notice.

Lawyers call it "nail and mail."

Multiple copies of a summons and an accompanying lawsuit have been attached, using heavy-duty clear tape rather than nails, to the doors of Trout's Nightclub in Oildale.

Named in the lawsuit as defendant is Allen Thomas Rockwell, the man who owned and operated Trout's for more than a decade before the country music honky-tonk appeared to have closed last month.

Rockwell hasn't responded to multiple inquiries about the fate of Trout's and its famous fish sign for several weeks.

"I guess you could say he's lying low," said Bakersfield attorney Fawn Dessy, who filed the complaint in Kern County Superior Court.

The plaintiff, Thurman Investments Inc., the new owner of the Trout's building, alleges in the lawsuit that Rockwell and his "agents, servants, employees, partners, principals, representatives and/or alter egos" are still "doing business in the premises," against the wishes of the new owner.

According to the complaint, Rockwell defaulted on the payment of a promissory note in March 2016 to the former owner of the building, Mortgage Lender Services.

The building at 805 N. Chester Ave. was sold at auction on May 9 to the current owner.

"At the time of the sale, the trustor, being defendant Rockwell, was in possession of the premises," the complaint says. And the new owner alleges that Rockwell continues to be in possession of the building, despite being served an eviction notice June 22.

"The reasonable rental value of the premises is at least the sum of $122 per day," the lawsuit states, "and the damages to plaintiff ... will continue to accrue at the rate so long as defendants remain in possession of the premises."

The Northern California investment group is also asking the court to award attorney's fees and other costs of the lawsuit.

Dessy, reached Friday afternoon, said, generally speaking, when someone has been foreclosed upon they are required to vacate the property.

The longtime attorney said she is fully aware of the interest many have in the eventual fate of the historic nightclub and its missing sign.

"It's such a big deal that Trout's was closed," Dessy said.

And while the missing sign is not mentioned specifically in the lawsuit, the owner of the building is taking this action to secure the property, and the sign is considered a "fixture" of the building, and is therefore the property of the new owner.

"It's just presumed that doors, light fixtures, cabinets and other fixtures are part of the real estate," Dessy said.

And what's next? The matter, Dessy said, will likely go to trial.

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(7) comments

no left hand

I understand fixtures are part of a building. but the sin? if kmart is in a building, building is foreclosed , they take there lighted sign off the building, it was attached, so why don't they have to leave it, and let the new owner of the foreclosed building open a store and call it kmart.....this is what it soundslike is happening, yhe building was foreclosed upon, not the business.so the sign is part of the business where the business owner could if he had the funds, open the business elsewhere, but how could the owner of the building open the business since he owns building and not business.just curious, since the sign is somewhat part of business, also are the brackets sign was attached to still attached to the building, as I haven't seen pictures of the sign missing from the building.


So Glenn Pogatchnik said: "Bakersfield had abandoned Trout’s and treated Rockwell badly, and therefore didn’t deserve the sign." Would he or anyone care to share just how that happened? Or is it just so much whining from immature people who can't take responsibility for their own bad behavior? Sniveling from some not withstanding removing the sign is theft, pure and simple.

no left hand

but I would think the sign is part of the business, and the building was foreclosed on, not the business, the business can be relocated to another building, the new owner of the building doesn't own the business now, or does he? I would think they are separate entities, the biznes couldn't pay rent, or mortgage or whatever, so they were foreclosed evicted, etc, but that doesn't mean the biznes also. if my house is foreclosed on, and I have my name carved on wood that I screwed on by my address, do I have to leave it. its attached, like the pictures screwed on the walls of my kids, the light my kid made in metal shop or the mantle o er the fireplace made in wood shop, or the deer antlers from my 1st buck, would I leave those, they are attached, but they aren't something that makes the house function/ I am curious on how this sums up....

amtfor attorneys

Rockwell would sue people and drag about it I use to get short changed at the bar , the lady manager was just awful it was a dump Rockwell would tell band members if u dont play for me u dont play anywhere in this town that was Rockwell hear he lives behind the bar in those dumpy apps he did drive a Hummer bakersfield didn't need to support him he put himself in this mess he should of tended to business

amtfor attorneys

about time he was happy when he sued someone now its his turn to be sued the place is a dump always has been

Anna Reading-Carey

If you want to find Rockwell lpok in the house BEHIND Trouts. He has been seen there.

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