A family dispute involving the owners of Gerdt Furniture & Interiors Inc. has led to a lawsuit accusing them of owing nearly $4 million in unpaid rent and loans.
Landlord George Gerdt is suing his younger brother, John, and John's wife, Cheryl, in addition to the retail business they operate, in Marion Superior Court.
The lawsuit follows the announced closing in December of the flagship Gerdt Furniture store in Southport, ending a 54-year run for the business. Commercials airing on local television stations say the store is in its final days of a closeout sale, but a salesperson answering the phone at the store said it would be open at least through March.
A Gerdt store in Castleton that opened in 1986 was closed late last year. Gerdt also opened a store along U.S. 36 in Avon in 2006, but closed it in 2009.
According to his complaint, George Gerdt owns the two buildings that housed the furniture stores in Southport and Castleton. He claims Gerdt Furniture & Interiors owes $870,000 in unpaid rent at the Southport location and $580,000 in unpaid rent at the Castleton location.
George Gerdt also says Gerdt Furniture & Interiors defaulted on a $2 million note and owes $408,579 on another loan.
In addition, he accuses John Gerdt of withholding collateral for the two notes, including proceeds from recent “going out of business” sales, the lawsuit says.
Reached by phone, Cheryl Gerdt declined to discuss the lawsuit, saying it’s “a family matter.”
Lynette Gray, a Franklin attorney representing George Gerdt, who resides in Florida, didn't return calls from IBJ seeking comment.
Edward Gerdt, the father of George and John, opened his original Southport store in 1959 after saving enough money to realize his dream of operating his own business. He had been a detective for the city of Indianapolis. The business moved to a bigger Southport store in 1992.
In a statement announcing the closure of the business in December, John Gerdt said, “Gerdt Furniture is a part of the history in Indianapolis and we have loved being a part of so many families’ lives. But there comes a time to move on, and [Cheryl] and I have decided to retire while we can still offer our customers the quality merchandise and service we are known for.”
IBJ is a sister publication of Indiana Lawyer.