Biz Buzz: Hurst Financial fraud lawsuit gets judge’s green light

A bankruptcy court judge has ruled that a lawsuit with more than 400 plaintiffs that alleges fraud and other wrongdoing by an Atascadero-based lender can proceed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court, even as the company and its executives are under bankruptcy protection.

Typically, that protection halts lawsuits against debtors, unless a creditor successfully asks a bankruptcy court to allow one to proceed.

San Diego law firm Kirby Noonan Lance and Hoge asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Barbara to allow the investor lawsuit to move ahead shortly after Hurst Financial and its president, Jay Hurst Miller, filed for Chapter 7 protection last month.

Hurst Financial, Miller, Stewart Title and Cuesta Title are defendants in that lawsuit.

The bankruptcy court granted the request because Hurst Financial and Miller did not oppose it.

The court also appointed an interim U.S. trustee in the case, Los Angeles attorney Brad Krasnoff. He was also the trustee in the 2002 bankruptcy of Mission Medical Associates of the Central Coast, which was shut down by the court that spring.

Krasnoff is the third trustee for Hurst Financial. Attorneys David Farmer and then Jerry Namba had each withdrawn, citing conflicts of interest.

— Melanie Cleveland

EVC helps expand, start new firms

The Economic Vitality Corp. of San Luis Obispo County recently helped start or expand five new local businesses.

“We are excited to help local entrepreneurs achieve their dreams of owning a business, particularly in this tough economy,” said Mike Manchak, EVC president and chief executive.

The businesses cover a wide range of products and services, from floral arranging and senior care to clothing and alternative transportation, Manchak said.

The new businesses are: Sprigs N’ Things, a custom floral design studio; Central Coast Home Health, an in-home health care provider; San Luis Rides, an electric scooter and bike shop; KJB Embroidery Screen Printing, a custom apparel shop; and FunRide, a car-sharing service using alternative-fuel vehicles.

— Melanie Cleveland