The increasingly bizarre litigation over the World Trade Center building appeared to quickly unravel Monday (Nov. 7) when neither the man behind the lawsuit nor any lawyers representing his company showed up in court to pursue the case.The judge has certainly got that right. I wouldn't be surprised if Fisher's original plan was to show up in court wearing a hat and fake mustache and say he was actually this "Amjed Abu Neil" character. Turns out what he actually did was even stranger. After, apparently, faxing documents for the hearing to the wrong office, he spent the rest of the day attempting to submit them via Facebook.
Two Canal Street Investors' case against the city of New Orleans challenges the lease of the 33-story building to a Four Seasons hotel development team with plans for a $360 million renovation after a competitive bid process last year.
Stuart "Neil" Fisher, the Florida real estate investor who owns Two Canal Street Investors, didn't show up in Orleans Civil District Court for a hearing on whether the case should be dismissed -- 14 days before the case is scheduled for trial.
The hearing comes after Fisher, who has a track record of failed deals and bankruptcies, claimed a Jordanian investor named either Amjed Abu Neil or Amjed Neel and a Florida man identified only "Mr. Ed" had joined the company, according to attorneys defending the case.
"Mr. Ed, like the horse?" said Judge Tiffany Chase on Monday, referring to the 1960s TV show featuring a talking horse named Mister Ed, drawing laughter from the courtroom.
"Some of the things that have happened in this case -- you could not make it up," Chase said.
Even though he didn't appear in court, Fisher posted documents to his Facebook page as the hearing was happening. He posted photos of himself last week that show him in the French Quarter, although he commented that he wasn't in the city at that time.This trial is set to begin (or be thrown out) November 21.
At one point last month, Fisher said in an email that he had resigned as president. He then posted a meme of the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger with the words "I'll be back. Soon."
Anyway, Fisher has managed to delay Mitch Landrieu's showcase development project for an entire year in spectacularly entertaining fashion. He deserves some sort of recognition for that. Or, at least, he should get his $10 back.