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Former Dunkin’ Donuts Park Developers Balk at Jury Ruling

Dunkin' Donuts Park

After losing a lawsuit against the City of Hartford over their termination from the project, the former developers of Dunkin’ Donuts Park are pushing for the court to reconsider the case.

When construction on Dunkin’ Donuts Park began in February 2015, it was envisioned that the ballpark would open for the relocating New Britain Rock Cats at the start of the 2016 season, and anchor future development in the Downtown North area. However, the construction process was marked by several delays and overruns, prompting the city to terminate its agreement with the ballpark’s original developers, Centerplan Construction Co. and DoNo Hartford LLC. The Hartford Yard Goats (Class AA; Eastern League) ultimately played the entire 2016 season on the road before opening the facility in April 2017, while the city later cut all ties with Centerplan and DoNo Hartford by terminating an agreement to redevelop properties surrounding the ballpark.

The developers eventually sued the city seeking $90 million in damages, but lost the trial two weeks ago after a six-member jury ruled in the city’s favor and ordered the developers to pay Hartford $335,000 in damages. In response to the jury’s decision, Centerplan and DoNo Hartford have filed a series of motions that effectively make the case for a new trial. These motions are separate from an expected appeal of the jury’s decision, but they outline the developers’ arguments for the court to reconsider the case. More from the Hartford Courant:

In a series of motions filed with the court — separate from an expected appeal — the developers argue they are due a new trial because the courts treated Centerplan and DoNo as one entity. The approach, the filings argue, did not allow DoNo to make its own, separate case.

The filings argue that even though Centerplan CEO Robert A. Landino owns all of Centerplan and some part of DoNo, that “does not provide a basis for the court to conclude as a matter of law that he had operational control of both entities.”

The city’s updated development agreement in January 2016 — coming after construction ran behind schedule and was over budget — was with DoNo and not Centerplan, according to the filings….

In addition, the filings ask the court to for a “directed verdict,” a ruling by a judge who finds that the evidence presented at a trial would not lead a “reasonable jury” to reach another conclusion.

From the city’s perspective, one of the biggest implications of the jury’s verdict was on the effort to jumpstart development surrounding Dunkin’ Donuts Park. The former developers had placed liens on properties surrounding Dunkin’ Donuts Park, and the city filed a motion after the jury’s ruling to have those liens removed. The city has a new deal to redevelop properties surrounding the ballpark, but details still need to be finalized.

Although plans for new development in the surrounding area stalled amidst the legal dispute, the Yard Goats have had success over their time at Dunkin’ Donuts Park, racking up strong attendance since their April 2017 debut at the facility.

RELATED STORIES: Hartford: Move Forward With Dunkin’ Donuts Park Area RedevelopmentJury Rules in Hartford’s Favor in Legal Challenge Over Dunkin’ Donuts ParkAgreement on First Phase of Dunkin’ Donuts Park Development Approved; Trial Between Hartford, Former Ballpark Developer Set to BeginFirm Looks to Jump Start Development Around Dunkin’ Donuts ParkFormer Dunkin’ Donuts Park Developers File Intent to SuePlans Sought for Development Around Dunkin’ Donuts ParkHartford Cuts All Ties With Ballpark Developers

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