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A COURT VICTORY FOR JOHN-JOHN: HUNT SETS SIGHTS ON NY CASE
Published May 15, 1998
Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge John Bessey issued a "directed verdict" against Lamar Hunt in the NHL Blue Jackets contract dispute "without giving the case to the jury," according to Bruce Cadwallader of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Attorneys for both sides had asked for a directed verdict. Bessey ruled that Hunt "wasn't improperly forced out of the ownership group" of the Blue Jackets, and that he committed a "'flagrant' violation of the business contract by taking legal actions against" former partners John McConnell and John Wolfe "without consulting other members" of the ownership group Columbus Hockey Limited. Hunt claims that McConnell and Wolfe breached their contract with him by obtaining the Blue Jackets without him. Anthony Celebrezze Jr., Hunt's lead attorney, said, "We're going to review the ruling, but it's safe to say there will be an appeal on this part of the case and we'll be appealing again the contract issues which we've said all along are the critical issues in this case." A second trial will be called "to determine financial damages against Hunt" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/15). ESCAPE TO NEW YORK: Hunt is pursuing a similar suit against the NHL and Nationwide Mutual Insurance in New York, which seeks $50M in damages and aims to prevent the league from placing a team in Columbus. But John Zeiger, one of the attorneys for McConnell and Wolfe, said, "We think the New York court will be very respectful of Judge Bessey's ruling today" (Bruce Cadwallader, COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/15).