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Why is every Trump lawsuit such insane garbage? Even the ones filed by real, practicing attorneys read like something barfed out by a wingnut law professor with a fetish for mythical cephalopods.

To wit, the complaint filed Monday to protest the City of New York's decision to cancel the Trump Organization's concession for the municipal golf course at Ferry Point in the Bronx after the former president and his family incited a riot at the Capitol. (That is, his right to operate the golf course and restaurants there.) Truly, it's a classic of the genre — if a bit lazy and phoned in compared to his earlier works.

It starts out with an exposition of all the mean shit Mayor Bill de Blasio said about him, which is UNFAIR and ILLEGAL, because government officials aren't allowed to diss their constituents. Please pause for a moment to appreciate the galling irony of the world's most famous bully, the guy who threatened to withhold COVID vaccinations from the state of New York because he didn't like Governor Andrew Cuomo, the guy who tried to block wildfire relief money for California because voters there hate him, the guy who literally got elected promising to LOCK HER UP his opponent — that guy is suing New York because the mayor hurt his feefees.

Okay.


The theory of this case is that the city breached its contract when it terminated the licensing agreement with the Trump Organization on January 15 after the "attack on our Capitol [which] resulted in five deaths, exposed lawmakers to COVID-19 and threatened the peaceful constitutional transfer of power." The city cites the cancellation of the PGA Championship at the Trump Bedminster property as evidence that Trump's reputation is now so permanently tarnished that he will no longer be able to fulfill his obligation to attract prestigious tournaments to the Ferry Point course.

In his complaint, Trump responds that he has fulfilled his obligation to maintain the course itself, and his representations during the contract negotiation about attracting prestigious tournaments are irrelevant. The claim is backed up by affidavits from a whole pile of golfers saying what a very nice course it is, including Trump superfan John Daly.

And in a sense, he's not wrong. If there's no clause saying "Trump will protect his reputation so that his brand doesn't become toxic" within the four corners of the document (i.e. literally written on the page) then it's probably not legally cognizable.

BUT!

The License Agreement specifically describes the contract as "terminable at will by the Commissioner in his sole and absolute discretion, at any time," and the only condition is that the cancelation cannot be "arbitrary and capricious."

Will a New York court construe it as arbitrary to terminate a contract after one of the parties incites a riot and destroys his own brand? Not clear! But what is clear is that the contract itself spells out a remedy for a breach, and that remedy does not involve running to court to make the City of New York continue to do business with Donald Trump, which would be known as suing him for specific performance of the contract.

The solution to this problem, if the City is found to be in breach, is money. Indeed, Trump's own complaint alludes to the liquidated damages provision in the License Agreement, noting "If the Commissioner does terminate the License at will, then Parks must pay to Petitioner a Termination Payment equal to the sum of, among other things, capital improvements costs and grow-in costs expended by Petitioner. Exhibit A §3.2(b). Here, the Termination Payment would approximate $30 million." So he's already admitted that the best he's going to get here is a payoff.

But instead he's howling for specific performance, a remedy strongly disfavored by courts, particularly when, as here, the parties negotiated in advance how they would behave if the deal fell apart. And that's before we even get to the crazypants nonsense about depriving the Trump Organization of its "due process right" to an "impartial, unbiased decision-maker."

Perhaps sensing this was a throwaway argument, simply to sexy up a barebones suit and impress the client, this section merited fewer than 100 words in the complaint. Because there was a process, the city followed it, and Florida Man is welcome to seek the remedies he himself negotiated if he's unhappy with the result. But good luck to him with this "very cool, very legal" pile of crap.

Weak. Shit. Bro.

[Trump Ferry Point LLC v. Mitchell J. Silver, in his capacity as Commissioner of Parks and Recreation et al Docket]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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