Judge sides with Morning Call in lawsuit against City Park

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NEW ORLEANS — A judge has granted a temporary injunction against the board that oversees City Park, nullifying the park’s decision to replace Morning Call with Café Du Monde.

The legal battle between Morning Call and City Park began in June, when the park’s board of commissioners, which opened up bids to operate a 10-year lease at the building currently housed by Morning Call, decided at its June 7 meeting to award the bid to Café Du Monde.

According to court documents, City Park’s lawyers said the reason they chose Café Du Monde over Morning Call is that Morning Call’s co-owner, Robert Hennessey, missed a mandatory pre-bid meeting on April 27. When a City Park representative called Hennessey to ask where he was the morning of the meeting, he said there was a problem with his calendar and that he’d send his brother to the meeting in his place.

Despite Hennessey saying that his brother was on the way, the meeting started after 10 a.m. and was over by the time Hennessey’s brother arrived shortly after 10:15 a.m., court documents state.

The judge sided with Morning Call’s lawyers, who argued that none of the three companies vying for the lease at the former casino building were in full compliance with the bid specifications. The third company that submitted a bid was Café Beignet.

The court ruled that City Park’s basis for denying Morning Call’s bid was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The three bids and the subsequent lease that was awarded to Café du Monde is void, at least for now.

It’s unclear whether the City Park Improvement Association plans to appeal the civil court’s ruling. City Park declined to comment on the judge’s decision.

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