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Former train company owner responds to judgments against him

B. Allen Brown had no idea the Missouri attorney general was suing him.

The former owner of the Columbia Star Dinner Train told ABC 17 News he was never served with the lawsuit the Attorney General’s Office filed in December. Online court records show as much. The court could never serve him at the company’s listed address in Michigan. Instead, the court granted the state’s motion for default judgment, allowing four customers to recoup their losses of $1,144.55 for buying tickets to the dinner show and never getting a ride.

It’s not the only time Brown’s lack of a response in court has ended in a $1.28 million judgment against him, the dinner train, Train Travel, Inc. and Railway Express Inc. Brown did not show up to a May 2016 court hearing in a lawsuit filed by the train show’s former owner, Mark Vaughn. Judge Kevin Crane ordered Columbia Star Dinner train pay more than $18,000 to the city of Columbia, which ended its contract with the show after failing to pay bills in late 2014. City attorney Nancy Thompson said the city has yet to see any money from the judgment, but would pursue it if given the opportunity.

Brown, however, says he no longer owns the Columbia Star Dinner Train, an endeavor he took over in 2013. The city of Columbia ended its contract with the show, which ran from Columbia to Centralia, in 2014. The city claimed Brown failed to pay the bills for using the city’s terminal and railroad. Brown told ABC 17 News that the potential new owners of the company should handle any legal questions.

“Since I am not an owner or manager of this corporation, I really should not make any comments,” Brown said in an email Tuesday.

Brown maintains the city handled the situation with Columbia Star Dinner Train poorly in 2014. The show’s parent company went through a merger in October 2014, which led to several unforeseen financial issues, Brown said. He asked the city for patience until December for revenue from holiday parties to come in and take care of the remaining balance the company owed the city. Regardless, the city sent notice on Dec. 8 that it would be ending its contract with Columbia Star Dinner Train, which let them use the COLT terminal and railroad.

“This enterprise would have been a great benefit to the community and a provider of badly needed jobs, but some people took a very short sighted position tying the hands of the Company’s ability to really make a difference in the community,” Brown wrote. “It would have been an entirely different story had certain government officials been patient three more weeks back in 2014.”

Both lawsuits ended after difficulty serving anyone associated with Columbia Star Dinner Train at its listed address in Wixom, Mich. The attorney general tried serving the company with the lawsuit in January, but the petition was returned as non-established. Instead, the office served the Secretary of State, allowed by state law “when a corporation fails to maintain a registered agent.”

Records with the Secretary of State show Brown is still the registered agent for Columbia Star Dinner Train, with an address in Wixom, Mich. Brown is also the CEO and president of Railmark Holdings, a company based in Madisonville, Kentucky.

Brown told ABC 17 News he had been working with the secretary of state’s office recently on switching ownership of the company. He said he requested the papers to make the transfer official two weeks ago. As far as his personal involvement in the lawsuits, he said he would have to get an attorney involved, not knowing how much he personally might owe.

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