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September 22, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Standard Amusements sues Westchester for canceling Playland contract

Standard Amusements LLC is asking a federal court to reinstate a contract that was terminated May 28 by Westchester County that allowed it to take over operation of Playland. In addition, the company is seeking legal fees and costs and asking for any additional awards the court may determine just and proper.

The lawsuit, known as an “adversary complaint,” was filed June 2 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, in connection with the Chapter 11 filing by Standard Amusements on Memorial Day. Judge Robert D. Drain is handling the case at the federal courthouse in White Plains.

A view of the park from the promenade along the Long Island Sound. Photo by Bob Rozycki

Among other things, Standard is asking that the court declare the contract as valid, that Standard performed all of its obligations under the contract and that the county either rejected or failed to respond to Standard’s “reasonable offers” to fix the breaches alleged by the county.

Named in the lawsuit in their official capacities are County Executive George Latimer, Commissioner of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation Kathleen O’Connor and Commissioner of the Department of Public Works and Transportation Hugh J. Greechan.

The complaint takes the position that Standard Amusements and the administration of former County Executive Rob Astorino entered into a contract and, “When political administrations change, the new leaders are, of course, free to pursue policies diametrically opposed to their predecessor’s. But the same is not true for contracts. Rather, just as a corporation’s new management cannot abrogate the contracts prior management entered into, a government cannot walk away from binding agreements made by past administrations simply because the new administration does not like them.”

The complaint argues against the position taken by Latimer’s administration that Standard Amusements breached the contract and failed to fix the breaches. It alleges that Latimer has engaged in a campaign by press release and on social media that has disparaged Standard, that Latimer has “a basic misunderstanding of the deal and its benefits to Westchester County,” and that the county executive has “an intent to breach the agreement at all costs including fabricating SA’s (Standard Amusements’) nonperformance for the sake of political posturing and gain.”

The adversary complaint was submitted by attorneys John J. Rapisardi, Daniel L. Cantor, Daniel Shamah and Joseph Zujkowski of the New York City-based law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

When asked by the Business Journal to comment on Standard Amusements’ June 2 court filing, Catherine Cioffi, communications director for the county executive’s office, said, “We don’t comment on pending litigation. This matter is now with the lawyers and we are focused on having a great 2019 season at Playland.”