I am sorry to hear about your troubles here. It is certainly a bad spot legally, but the more important issues relate to the family. That comes first. I am a licensed attorney with over a dozen years of practice experience handling matters of this nature. It is a pleasure to assist you today.
The first thing you need to do is look at the Atlanta lease and see if it mentions in any way that the property owner will seek and provide other showrooms entities, as they had promised. If they have not done so and this is require by the lease, then that is a material breach of contract and it may ultimately allow you guys to walk without owing any money.
If that is not mentioned in the lease, but you guys (or your father) can attest and sign an affidavit to the effect that they promised this, then if you have to default on the lease, you can use this as a defense. If this is litigated, you can state that the reason you had to default is because you depended on their promises to your detriment and it caused the ultimate default because they did not live up to their end of the deal. In litigation, this could certainly mitigate the amount owed in the end, if not absolve you completely.
I would have your father sign a sworn statement to this effect that is notarized. Since he has a serious illness, you want to be able to preserve his word and the facts in the event he is incapacitated later.
In the interim, as you have been doing, you need to negotiate in good faith with the owner to try to get out of the lease or amend the lease payments to something more manageable. I would send a certified letter with a return receipt in which you explain that you need to either cancel or amend the terms. Further explain that the reason you are in this position is because of their inability to provide other showrooms and that is a legal issue to contemplate. By sending a certified letter, you are establishing a legal record of your attempts at reasonableness. You are also placing them on legal notice of your position.
Going forward, you need to:
- Review the lease to see if the owner stated that would work to provide other showrooms;
- Attempt to negotiate to new terms or cancellation, first by certified letter and then through more conversations;
- Work with your accounting personnel to move assets around to prevent a massive hit if you default and they come after you;
- Get the affidavit from your father as to them promising other showrooms, etc.
Right now, you need to show diligence - in the event of future litigation as well as attempts at being reasonable. You have clearly already started that process and are doing great. Understand that there may be no way to avoid liability totally, but there are measures to take to protect your family's assets and to place yourself in a better position from a legal/litigation standpoint.
Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns. Please also rate my answer positively (THREE OR MORE Stars) on the ratings bar on your end so I can receive credit from the site for my response.
Best wishes going forward!