Raymond Malenfant, once a flamboyant hotel developer who was a success story of the Quebec business class, is in critical condition and in a coma after being hit by a car yesterday.

It was the latest in a string of tragedies to befall the former hotel magnate, now running a used-car business in a Montreal suburb after years of labour problems, bankruptcy and brushes with the law.

Mr. Malenfant was struck as he began to cross the street in front of the partly burned motel where he and his family live.

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Even as he was fighting for his life at a trauma centre, suffering from a brain injury and multiple fractures, bailiffs were changing locks and seizing cars at the run-down motel Mr. Malenfant had tried to run in Laval, north of Montreal.

Mr. Malenfant was once a star of the business community but a reviled figure among Quebec unions.

His empire -- at one time consisting of 15 hotels, half a dozen ski resorts and office buildings worth a total of $500-million -- included Winnipeg's Fort Garry Hotel and the Manoir Richelieu, scene of one of Quebec's nastiest labour disputes.

He bought the Manoir Richelieu from the Quebec government in December, 1985, and immediately dumped 300 unionized employees. The ensuing dispute was punctuated by picket lines, vandalism, bombings, arson and a death.

His empire reached its nadir in 1992, when the Quebec Superior Court declared him bankrupt.