Mystic Theater in Nevada City closed as legal issues linger |

Mystic Theater in Nevada City closed as legal issues linger

The owner of the Onyx Theatre has prevailed in Nevada County Superior Court against a competitor over the use of its former name, records state.

Ross Woodbury, CEO of the Sierra Film Society, Inc., is restricted from using “The Magic” or any similar words that sound the same in connection with entertainment in the county. Additionally, Woodbury can’t use words like “Magic” or “Manic” orally, in print or online, the September judgment states.

The Onyx formally was called The Magic.

Additionally, in a separate issue Woodbury is fighting his eviction from his Mystic Theater’s Commercial Street site in Nevada City. Attending a Monday court hearing on the issue, an attorney for the property and Woodbury opted to mediate the issue.

Court proceedings continue against the operator of the Mystic Theater, as attorneys argue whether Woodbury violated a judge’s order in the name use civil case.

Judge Robert Tice-Raskin has made no decision about the violation. The issue is scheduled to again appear before the judge on Dec. 20.

“We tried to resolve it,” said Jay Zellmer, the attorney who represents the plaintiff. “It’s hard to hit a moving target.”

Woodbury declined comment.

According to the March complaint filed by F.M.O. Inc., the issue over the use of the name “The Magic Theater” began almost a year ago.

The suit states that F.M.O., whose president and CEO is Jeffery L. Clark, bought “The Magic” theater business in 2001 from Woodbury. It’s used that name for its theater since 2003.

In 2018 that theater was divided into two rooms and renamed “The Onyx.” The two rooms were named “The Magic” and “The Dream,” the complaint states.

The plaintiff learned in January that Woodbury intended to start a new business to compete with The Onyx, calling it “The Magic Theater.” An advertisement stated “The original Magic Theater reopens this weekend …” and claimed it was a nonprofit, the suit states.

Zellmer sent letters to Woodbury, demanding he stop using the name, though Woodbury refused, according to the complaint.

A judge issued a preliminary injunction against Woodbury in April. Zellmer in July claimed that Woodbury violated that injunction, partly “by continuing to operate in business.”

According to the California Franchise Tax Board, Sierra Film Society dissolved in March.

“If a business is dissolved, it no longer has any legal rights as a corporate entity,” the tax board said in an email. “If the business continues to operate after it has dissolved, the business owners are personally liable for any business transactions.”

Woodbury’s theater was closed Monday. A notice on its door states: “Sorry! For long complicated reasons, we are closed this weekend! Please check back!”

A two-page notice posted nearby claims Woodbury had an accident, leading to a loss of revenue that made it “difficult” to pay rent. The notice alleges Woodbury’s landlord, Mountain Valley Properties, is looking for a reason to evict him.

Curtis Price, who’s with the property company and has his name and phone number listed on the notice, declined comment.

“There’s too much going on and I don’t want to comment,” Price said.

To contact City Editor Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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