What is the name of your state? Missouri
I recently purchased a small business from an individual. After 2.5 months we have become aware of numerous debts, large and small, this individual owes in connection with the business. Because we kept the business name we have been contacted by a variety of vendors and legal entities concerning these debts. We were advised to post a legal notice in our local paper stating that we would not be repsonsible for any of these debts incurred prior to our purchase. In the legal notice we stated that:
"MY NAME" & "MY WIFE'S NAME" as new owners of "BUSINESS NAME" are not responsible for any debts, past, present or future by "PREVIOUS OWNER'S NAME" and "HIS WIFE'S NAME" as individuals or former owners of "BUSINESS NAME".
Obviously I have not included any specific names. The problem is that the former owner's wife is threatening to sue for defamation of character because she was not an official owner or employee of the business. She, however, had her name on at least one vehicle title that was part of the purchase and owns the building that the business is housed in and is charging us rent.
Is the inclusion of her name in a basic notice such as this grounds for defamation since she is married to the previous owner and had connections with the business? We were told in our state (Missouri) that since it was set up as a sole proprietorship (DBA) that the spouse is still ultimately responsible for debts incurred by the owner.
I would appreciate any advice on this including our need to hire an attorney.