Daley Excused From Testifying In Park Grill Lawsuit
By Todd Feurer
CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Mayor Richard M. Daley will not have to testify in open court in connection to the Emanuel administration’s effort to break a long-term deal with the operators of the restaurant at Millennium Park.
Daley’s attorneys had sought to have Daley excused from testifying, citing an unexplained medical hardship. After submitting medical records to Cook County Judge Moshe Jacobius and attorneys for the Park Grill behind closed doors on Tuesday, lawyers for the restaurant agreed not to call him to the witness stand.
Daley’s attorneys made the request earlier this month that he be excused from testifying, due to a medical hardship. They did not provide details at the time, and Jacobius demanded more information before ruling, but allowed the former mayor’s attorneys to file his medical records under seal, agreeing that his right to privacy outweighed the public’s need to know.
After Jacobius and attorneys for the Park Grill reviewed the medical records behind closed doors on Wednesday, Park Grill lawyers withdrew their request for him to testify, saying it was the right thing to do.
Park Grill Attorney Stephen Novack says his clients are “very disappointed” that Daley won’t be testifying.
CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller says, “They saw something that made them say to themselves, ‘We’re going to get hurt if we call him,’ either by something the mayor might say or the way the mayor may look as far as any physical incapacity that he has.”
Miller said he expects both sides to settle the case and it likely will not go to trial.
Details of Daley’s medical condition remained a secret, and Jacobius barred attorneys in the case from disclosing any information on Daley’ health.
He suffered stroke-like conditions earlier this year, but his family has said since then that he’s doing well.
Three years ago, the Emanuel administration filed a lawsuit against the Park Grill, arguing its deal to run the restaurant at Millennium Park cheated taxpayers out of millions of dollars in revenue. They also argued the contract with the city is invalid because the City of Chicago owns most of Millennium Park, and the Chicago Park District did not get City Council authorization for the 20-year lease with the Park Grill.
Daley’s lawyers also had argued there was no good reason to call him to testify, as he doesn’t have any pertinent information for the case, because he doesn’t remember specifics of the negotiations for the Park Grill deal he signed in 2003.
During depositions in the case, Daley repeatedly said he did not remember how the Park Grill operators were selected to run the establishment. He also testified he didn’t know if there was anything improper about how Park Grill got the contract.
The restaurant’s investors include several businessmen with political ties to Daley.
–CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.