Building owners’ lawsuit nears trial

A lawsuit by the owners of a condemned Seneca building approaches a trial date in U-S District Court. Federal Judge Tim Cain heard pre-trial motions this month in the case of Michel and Efford Haynes against Auto-Owners Insurance Company. The building, now owned by Haynes, years ago served as the home store for Harper Brothers, who operated a chain of 5 and 10s in South Carolina and Georgia. In recent times, however, Seneca condemned the building as unsafe and engaged in a series of municipal court proceedings to force today’s owners to make repairs or demolish. At one point, the Rev. Efford Haynes, 88 years old at the time, spent a brief time in jail when he failed to convince Judge Danny Singleton that he had obtained the required permits to repair or demolish. But last year Haynes attorney Dick Harpootlian announced his client would cooperate and intended to either bring the building to code or demolish. At the time, Harpootlian also announced the filing of a lawsuit by the Haynes to recover damages against an insurance company, identified as Auto-Owners Insurance.