The lawsuit that has held up redevelopment of the old World Trade Center building in New Orleans for more than a year has taken a bizarre turn, with the head of the company that filed the suit abruptly stepping aside and his former legal team asking to be removed from the case.Actually it's not entirely clear that he's walking away. Something has changed, obviously. But that something is not necessarily the end of this lawsuit.
After a competitive review process last year, the city chose a team of developers who plan to turn the former office tower at the foot of Canal Street into a Four Seasons Hotel and condos. However, one of the losing applicants, Two Canal Street Investors Inc., has been trying to block those plans, arguing the city broke state law in making its selection.
At the center of the dispute has been Stuart "Neil" Fisher, who bought TCSI after its proposal already had been rejected. He’s been accused of pursuing a frivolous lawsuit with the hope of scoring a quick payday in the form of a settlement with the city.
But Fisher stepped down as president of TCSI earlier this month and says he no longer has any stake in the company, though he insists that others will carry on with the lawsuit in his place.
Neither side would comment on the lawyers’ decision to pull out of the case, a step that still needs approval from Civil District Court Judge Tiffany Chase, who told both sides in a status conference this week that she plans to proceed quickly with a trial over the suit.Fisher has "stepped down," and his lawyers are (maybe) off the case but he's still here hyping the mystery Superlawyer to be named later? It's suggested by the other side that this is just a delay tactic. But if it is, then on whose behalf is the case being delayed? This isn't the first time we've had trouble understanding just who the plaintiff is in this case.
Fisher said Friday that a new team of lawyers and a “nationally famous litigator” could be coming aboard to handle the lawsuit, but he would not name them.
Fisher bought the company but didn't file the lawsuit. Maybe. At some point he indicated that he wasn't even the owner of the company anymore. But we weren't told exactly who is.
In an interview in March, Fisher said he is no longer an owner of Two Canal Street Investors, but he is the president and "authorized representative of the owners, both foreign and domestic." Fisher said he has a group of new investors including a Wall Street hedge fund, all of whom he declined to name.Now Fisher is leaving.. again? But not really? And the legal team is shifting around.. maybe. I still don't know who the actual plaintiff is in this case. And I know even less about who actually owns TCSI now. Somebody does, though. Or maybe this is just one of those perpetual motion lawsuits that keeps going under the power of its own inertia.
Correction: Misspelled Stuart in the title. That happens a lot.