A longtime New Albany pharmacist who had plans to open a new pharmacy on West Bankhead Street has sued his ex-business partner.
The new pharmacy, GetWell, was expected to open about year ago, but it never did. The building, which was the former home of the Mi Pueblo restaurant, was being remodeled for the pharmacy.
Now, Barry Robbins, who had been a pharmacist for 40 years in New Albany, has filed a lawsuit in Union County Circuit Court against Getwell Pharmacy of Humboldt, Tenn., and his ex-business partner Rick Chambers of Germantown, Tenn.
Robbins’ wife, Sherri, is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit, which demands a jury trial. Much of the lawsuit deals with ownership rights and how a $200,000 line of credit was allegedly used.
Chambers and Barry Robbins worked together for Fred’s Pharmacy. Robbins worked at the New Albany location, which closed in 2018, and Chambers worked for the corporate offices in Memphis, the lawsuit states.
Chambers created GetWell Pharmacy, “as a result of the demise of Fred’s Pharmacy,” the lawsuit says.
According to the lawsuit, Chambers offered Robbins the opportunity to become an equity owner of GetWell. The plan was to open a GetWell Pharmacy locally with Robbins being the manager/owner of the New Albany location, the lawsuit says.
But the ownership structure was never changed to include the plaintiffs, the lawsuit says.
Robbins spent about $125,000 to remodel the building being rented by GetWell for the pharmacy. This contribution “created equity ownership” for the plaintiffs in GetWell, the lawsuit asserts.
Robbins was also required to furnish a $200,000 line of credit to GetWell to fund startup costs for the New Albany location.
“Plaintiffs spent their own money to remodel the building and pledged their own assets for the subject line of credit,” the lawsuit says. “The pledge of assets, and the line of credit that came from it, benefitted defendants, with no return to plaintiffs.”
The defendants have been “unjustly enriched at the expense of the plaintiffs,” it adds.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants breached an agreement by using the line of credit for expenses not related to the New Albany GetWell location.
“Defendants breached the collateral agreement by using the subject line of credit for expenses that benefitted other locations of GetWell,” the lawsuit states. “Said breach caused damage to the plaintiffs.”
Robbins sent a letter to the defendants “demanding an accounting of the breach funds and update on the status of ownership.”
The lawsuit charges that the defendants “intentionally misled” Barry and Sherri Robbins with promises of equity ownership and assurances that the line of credit would only be used for expenses associated with the New Albany location.
Due to the breaches and “unkept promises of defendants,” the New Albany GetWell Pharmacy location has not opened, the lawsuit charges.
Barry and Sherri Robbins have been “denied access to information regarding their ownership, both in terms of ‘what’ they will own, and ‘how much’ they will own,” the lawsuit adds.
Robbins passed up other business opportunities because he was relying on promises made by the defendants.
“Plaintiff Barry Robbins is a well-regarded pharmacist in the New Albany area, whose employment/ownership of any pharmacy would guarantee a stream of customers, and thus income,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare Barry and Sherri Robbins as proportional owners of GetWell and to assign the ownership percentage.
Barry and Sherri Robbins are represented by New Albany attorney Matthew Harris.
Chambers and GetWell Pharmacy have asked that the lawsuit be dismissed. The defendants are represented by New Albany attorney L.N. Chandler Rogers.