GALVESTON � The owner of a League City theater reportedly damaged by Hurricane Ike accuses his landlord of failing to help him with rebuilding and restoration efforts, court papers say.

Richard Aquino, who is doing business as The Secret Playhouse, claims Talladega Plaza LLC neglected to honor a contract clause that says the former shall make necessary repairs in the event of destruction, and is suing the company in Galveston County District Court for constructive eviction and breach of contract.

The suit was filed on Nov. 4. Tarantino Properties Inc., the managing agent for the premises where The Secret Playhouse conducts business, is named a co-defendant.

Aquino says the building which houses The Secret Playhouse sustained significant damage during Ike's assault on Southeast Texas on Sept. 13, 2008.

The Category 2 storm battered the upper Gulf Coast with 115-mph winds and a 15-foot storm surge.

A Secret Playhouse associate informed the defendants of the damage three days later. The defendants told her to remove any property from the premises "to protect it from further damage and an employee from the defendants' offices would contact her regarding the damage to the structure and the premises," according to the original petition.

"Plaintiff removed his property and equipment from the premises at the time," it says.

The suit further argues The Secret Playhouse waited for the defendants to begin work but the latter made no such effort. It asserts the lease was still active and the plaintiffs fulfilled each and every one of its terms.

"There was a landlord-tenant relationship between plaintiff and defendants," it says. "Defendants made no effort to proceed with reasonable diligence to repair or replace the premises to its prior condition nor have they made an election on lease termination."

Consequently, the plaintiff, represented by Houston attorney Michael C. Watson, seeks restitution for rent and lost income as well as a jury trial.

Galveston County 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss is presiding over the case.

Case No. 08CV1114

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