Circuit Court of Cook County Judge Moshe Jacobius, on September 24, 2015, issued a significant ruling upholding the validity of the Park Grill’s contract to operate its restaurant and concessions in Millennium Park, and rejecting the City’s well-publicized efforts to have the contract declared a nullity.
The ruling is a victory for all hard-working Chicagoans who do business with the City.
After weighing testimony from dozens of witnesses and admitting hundreds of trial exhibits, Judge Jacobius entered judgment in favor of the Park Grill and against the City, holding that the Park Grill’s contract is valid and fully enforceable. Opinion.
The City filed the lawsuit in late 2011 – more than eight years after the Park Grill first opened for business – seeking to have the Park Grill’s contract declared void and seeking damages for what the City alleged was an unfair deal. In a thorough 79-page Memorandum Opinion issued last week, the Court soundly rejected all of the City’s claims.
Among other things, the Court refused to allow the City to disavow the deal so long after the fact, when it had been fully aware of and supported the deal as it was being made and supported the Park Grill’s business operations for years thereafter. The Court emphasized that the City and the Park District had worked closely together throughout the entire process of awarding and negotiating the Park Grill’s contract, and also in getting the restaurant up and running in the Park. As the Court explained it:
“Eight years after permitting its operation and granting continuous permits and licenses, the City brought suit in this Court seeking a declaration that the Concession Agreement, which it knew of and sanctioned, should be vitiated and a better deal be made with the existing operators or new operators. To dislodge the [Park Grill] after all that has occurred would bring a pallor on anyone transacting business with the City If a contractual undertaking can be summarily cancelled after obtaining licenses, permits, and certifications from the City for years . . . , what protection would any business be able to invoke? The law in its wisdom has established defenses against such actions to protect exposed entrepreneurs.”
The Court also rejected the City’s claims that the Park Grill somehow asserted improper influence over the contract bidding and negotiations. Despite the steady drumbeat of misinformed media stories about supposed “clout” and “sweetheart deals,” the Court found – to the contrary – that the Park Grill’s success was not the product of any such improper influence.