Former Mayor Richard M. Daley won’t have to testify in City Hall’s lawsuit to break a contract the Park Grill restaurant in Millennium Park was awarded under Daley.
After reviewing affidavits on Daley’s medical condition behind closed doors, the Park Grill’s operators and lawyers agreed Wednesday to withdraw their subpoena to have the former mayor testify.
Park Grill operators Matthew O’Malley and James Horan had been planning for Daley to be their star witness to rebuff the lawsuit Mayor Rahm Emanuel filed in Cook County Court three years ago.
“My clients are very disappointed,” attorney Stephen Novack said after he agreed to withdraw the subpoena that Daley’s lawyers had been fighting to dismiss.
“We saw the medical information . . . and it was the right thing to do,” Novack said, indicating that Daley’s memory has changed since he gave a lengthy deposition last August.
The Chicago Sun-Times has reported that Daley suffered a stroke when he was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital Jan. 31 when his nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 2004 death of David Koschman.
Earlier this month, Daley’s attorneys filed a motion to quash the subpoena, arguing that his testimony wasn’t necessary because he had little recall during his deposition last summer. They also argued that his undisclosed medical condition would make it a hardship for him to testify.
Cook County Circuit Judge Moshe Jacobius held a closed-door hearing with lawyers for the former mayor, the Emanuel administration and the Park Grill on Wednesday to discuss Daley’s medical condition. Jacobius said the affidavits on Daley’s medical condition will remain sealed.
As part of the agreement to withdraw the subpoena, Novack said Daley’s 162-page deposition will now become evidence in the trial. During the contentious deposition, Daley repeatedly said he couldn’t recall details about the restaurant, saying, “I don’t know what I knew.”
The Chicago Park District, controlled by the mayor, gave the Park Grill a 30-year contract in 2003 to operate the restaurant on land controlled by City Hall but never got approval for the deal from the City Council, as required by law.
The Emanuel administration is trying to break the deal, saying the Park Grill got a sweetheart deal, including free natural gas and garbage collection, because O’Malley had an affair with a top park district official, Laura Foxgrover, who bore his child as the park district and restaurant were negotiating the concession contract.
O’Malley and Horan have maintained that Daley was aware of their plans for the restaurant because they had several meetings with the mayor before it opened in 2003. During one of those meetings, O’Malley and Horan say Daley ordered them to move the bar from the front of the restaurant to the back. Daley said during his deposition he didn’t recall those meetings.
Though the Daley administration knew the Park Grill never got the required City Council approval, City Hall didn’t try to break the lease until O’Malley and Horan tried to sell their company that manages the Park Grill for $8 million as Emanuel was taking office.
The Emanuel administrationfiled suit in December 2011, arguing the restaurant got “a lopsided contract that cheated taxpayers” out of $8 million.