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Opal Henderson sues Disper-Schmitt Properties for $1 million

7:22 PM, Mar 27, 2012   |    comments
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By Grant Bissell

St. Louis (KSDK) - A senior citizen says she was harassed and bullied out of her family business. Now she says she's being cheated out of more than one million dollars.

Opal Henderson, 82, owned a junk yard near Seventh and Hickory Street in St. Louis for more than 60 years. In 2008 the city and developer Disper-Schmitt Properties used eminent domain to force Henderson out and make room for the Old Rock House bar.

Henderson was supposed to be paid $1,009,000 for the property. But the developer never paid up. The ruling had been tied up in the appeals process until March sixth of this year.

"I want them to pay me," said Henderson. "Pay me for my harassment, my aggravation, my loss of my property and my family's loss."

Henderson is now suing Disper Schmitt Properties for the money she's owed plus interest.

"They don't want to pay," said Henderson's lawyer, Chet Pleban. "I suspect what they're doing is waiting for her to die."

Disper-Schmitt was also supposed to improve the property. But to date no work has been done. Today the lot sits empty. Henderson's junk is gone, but the lot itself isn't in any better shape. Trash litters the ground and in some parts the area is overgrown with weeds.

NewsChannel 5 reached out to the developers. G. Mark Disper didn't return phone calls, but Daniel Schmitt says he never knew the final amount he owed Henderson. And since the deal was never completed, his company couldn't do work on the property.

Henderson's lawyer says the amount was agreed upon in court years ago. Now it's just a matter of figuring in the interest.

During a phone call on Tuesday, Schmitt admitted his company does owe Henderson the money and agreed to pay.

"I'm prepared to take a phone call from Chet (Pleban) to figure out the exact numbers that are due and see what we have, if there are any discrepancies and then work out a payment arrangement," said Schmitt. 

Henderson's attorney says with interest, Henderson is now owed around $1,117,000.


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