LONDONDERRY — Peter Sapatis, 78, says he’s retired and just wants to put his legal troubles behind him.
But now that’s not going to happen for the former owner of the Londonderry Flea Market.
A U.S. District Court judge in Concord recently ruled against him in a bitter battle with Coach Inc., one of the world’s largest fashion accessory companies.
Judge Paul Barbadoro said Sapatis could be held partly liable in the 13-month case, but he disagrees, saying he hasn’t owned the flea market in more than five years.
“I’m very depressed,” Sapatis said Friday. “What they are claiming I don’t think is true.”
The New York-based corporation claims fake merchandise designed to look like its handbags and other accessories was sold by vendors at the flea market, cutting into its profits.
Coach has filed a $15 million lawsuit even though Sapatis sold his 27-year-old business to his daughter, Alaina Paul, in 2008 for $100,000. The company contends he’s also responsible for not preventing thousands of dollars in illegal counterfeit sales at the flea market.
“Coach wants me as much as they want the flea market,” he said. “That ($15 million) is about 100 times more than I’m worth.”
He still owns the Route 102 property, where the flea market regularly draws thousands of customers each summer and fall weekend. Sapatis said he provides advice to his daughter, but nothing more. She rents the site from him, Sapatis said.
“I’m strictly an adviser to my daughter, “ Sapatis said. “I want to help her as much as I can.”
But Coach’s lawyers claim that Sapatis is still very much involved in the flea market’s operation and should be held liable.
A surge in counterfeit goods sales in Southern New Hampshire in recent years, including fake Coach merchandise, has led to police raids of local flea markets and numerous arrests.