Lawsuits galore: Minor v. Danielson hearing Friday
Lawyers for formerly entwined hotel-makers Halsey Minor and Lee Danielson will be in court Friday in a case that puts the troubled Landmark Hotel project back in the spotlight. In a follow-up to a recent story about hotel owner Minor, here is a look at most if not all of the litigation in which Minor has recently been involved.
The Landmark Hotel
Minor v. Danielson & SFG
Filed: February 11, 2009, Charlottesville Circuit Court
Alleging: That Danielson's company, Hotel Charlottesville LLC, intentionally hid $5.2 million in expenses for such “ordinary and customary” costs as elevators, fire protection, and plumbing fixtures. Minor's suit seeks $450,000 in damages and demands extrication from the project.
Twists: Amended nine days after filing to also sue the bank, Specialty Finance Group, or SFG.
Latest: Judge Edward Hogshire will hear Danielson's demurrer motions November 20.
SFG v. Minor Family Hotels
Filed: February 24, 2009, State Court, Fulton County, Georgia
Alleging: That Minor committed seven defaults on SFG's $23.7 million loan, $10 million of which was disbursed.
Twists: Each side has filed a motion for summary judgment.
Latest: Minor claims Danielson and the bank colluded to make the project fail [as detailed here].
Danielson v. Minor
Filed: April 14, 2009, Charlottesville Circuit Court (counterclaim to Minor v. Danielson)
Alleging: That Minor unlawfully broke the contract with Danielson as the Landmark’s developer; seeks $5.8 million.
Twists: Danielson, claiming that Minor's additions included a $382,000 mosaic in the lobby, seeks binding arbitration.
Latest: Judge Hogshire will hear the arbitration request November 20.
Merrill Lynch Private Finance
Merrill v. Minor
Filed: December 22, 2008, Southern District New York federal court
Alleging: That Minor sold off paintings that were collateral for $21.6 million Minor borrowed.
Twists: Merrill says it rebuffed, at one point, Minor's effort to borrow up to $35 million
Latest: Via summary judgment, Judge Sidney H. Stein grants Merrill’s victory October 23. Minor appeals.
Minor v. Merrill
Filed: March 10, 2009, Southern District New York federal court (as as counterclaim)
Alleging: That Merrill put a billion-dollar hold on his account despite his being current on payments, allegedly causing Minor to lose $1.5 million deposited on a $58.5 million Gulfstream G650 jet.
Twists: Minor barred from deposing top execs, such as now-ousted Merrill CEO John Thain, and later hit with restraining order over alleged harassment.
Latest: Two weeks before handing victory to Merrill, the judge described Minor's attempt to amend his suit as “futile, made in bad faith, and dilatory.”
Minor v. Merrill II
Filed: March 10, 2009, State Superior Court, Los Angeles
Alleging: As above, that Merrill unfairly levied that billion-dollar account freeze
Twists: Minor (citing an order barring him from selling off any artwork) charges unfair debt collection practices.
Latest: Merrill filed a demurrer October 7; a hearing has been set for November 25.
Christie's auction house
Minor v. Christie's
Filed: December 3, 2008, Northern District California federal court
Alleging: Fraud and conversion for holding on too long to seven Richard Price artworks Minor had lent Christie's to sell for around $25 million. "By the time the artworks were returned to Plaintiff, they had declined in value significantly."
Twists: Christie's alleges that Minor didn't hold clear title to the Richard Price works because they were allegedly pledged to secure his loan from Merrill.
Latest: No court filings since June; matter may be in mediation.
Christie's v. Minor
Filed: January 23, 2009, Northern District California federal court
Alleging: Fraud and breach of contract that Minor "knew" he couldn't pay the $12.2 million he bid for auction-bought paintings, including "A Rearing Stallion" by Sir Anthony van Dyck, "A Passing Shower in the Yellowstone Canyon" by Thomas Moran, and a Mary Cassatt.
Twists: Minor seeks jury trial.
Latest: See above.
Save Hialeah Racing
Minor v. City of Hialeah and John Brunetti
Filed: February 11, 2009, Dade County Circuit Court
Alleging: That the city broke its own laws in the 2004 sale of the historic flamingo-bedecked track and that the owner wrongly stopped on-site racing.
Twists: Before and after the August 8 suit dismissal, Minor revealed he was trying to buy parts of bankrupt race track-owning Magna Entertainment Corp.
Latest: Minor appeals. Brunetti will re-open Hialeah for Quarter Horse racing on November 28.
Sotheby's auction house
Sotheby's v. Minor
Filed: September 2, 2008, Southern District New York federal court
Alleging: That Minor–- high bidder on three artworks totaling $13.8 million and despite an offer of "generous" payment terms–- failed to make any payment.
Twists: A Sotheby's employee allegedly told Minor he was "going to love" Edward Hicks' "The Peaceable Kingdom with the Leopard of Serenity."
Latest: The case continues. More below.
Minor v. Sotheby's
Filed: September 22, 2008, Southern District New York federal court, a counterclaim (An attempted class-action filed October 1, 2008, in Northern District California was dismissed.)
Alleging: That Sotheby's secretly valued "The Peaceable Kingdom" at a lower value and secretly had an economic interest in the painting thus "irrevocably tainting" the auction, "unjustly enriching" itself, and breaching a fiduciary duty.
Twists: "Minor's counterclaim," Sotheby's says, "is barred under the doctrine of unclean hands."
Latest: "Because the paintings were sold at auction, Minor set the price," says Judge Henry Pitman in an October 26 order, closing a door on Minor's effort to invoke consumer law or claim any fiduciary duty.
A leaky, rotten residence
Minor v. Reagan W. Silber
Filed: February 7, 2007, Superior Court, Los Angeles County
Alleging: That when Silber sold a modernist mansion to Minor for $20 million in 2006, it contained vast internal rotting.
Twists: After winning $5.2 million August 27, 2008, in a court-affirmed arbitration, Minor moved to rented quarters in Holmby Hills and offered the Bel Air property for sale for $12.8 million.
Latest: He reduced the price to $11.4 million, but according to the last listing agent the property is off the market.
Small claim in L.A.
Pamela Palmer Doqui v. Shannon & Halsey Minor
Filed: December 18, 2008, in Los Angeles small claims court
Alleging: That the Minors owed her $7,500.
Twists: Plaintiff, who has worked for Reese Witherspoon, wins April 3; Minors appeal later that month.
Latest: Having abandoned their appeal, the Minors pay $7,931.21 on August 21, 2009.
Future lawsuit against Better Publications LLC?
Minor v. Hook
Filed: Not filed–- only threatened via October 27, 2009, email to editor.
Alleging: A smearing of Minor's good name.
Twists: "Either you set the record straight or you'll need a legal team by Christmas, and I promise there will be no Hook shortly thereafter."