G&S Prevails on Motion to Dismiss Filed by Former Outback Steakhouse Executives in New York

A federal district court in New York has held that commercial litigation filed by Gordon & Simmons on behalf of its client, David Lerner, can proceed against two well-established entrepreneurs in the restaurant industry, Chris T. Sullivan and Hugh M. Connerty, Jr., among other defendants.

In an order entered on September 30, 2015, Judge Leonard D. Wexler of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled that Lerner’s Complaint, which was prepared and filed by G&S attorneys stated facts sufficient to sustain claims for breach of contract, defamation, tortious interference and fraud, among other claims.  Lerner filed suit in September 2014 against Sullivan, Connerty, ConSul Partners, LLC and Besito, LLC in connection with Lerner’s role in a new venture to acquire and develop restaurant properties, including the Besito restaurant concept.  Defendants moved to dismiss Lerner’s claims in February 2015.  Judge Wexler held the matter under advisement before ruling that Lerner’s case may proceed.

Connerty and Sullivan are well-established in the restaurant industry.  Both were intimately involved in the expansion and growth of the Outback Steakhouse franchise in the U.S. and internationally, as well as in the development and growth of other well-known restaurant properties, including Longhorn Steakhouse, Hooters, Steak and Ale and Bennigans.  In his case, Lerner alleges that he was denied promised commissions and equity for his role in launching a new venture focused on identifying, acquiring and expanding new restaurant properties in the United States.  Besito was the first target of the new venture, and several new locations of this upscale Mexican restaurant have opened, or are planned, on the East Coast.  Nevertheless, Lerner has been largely denied the compensation promised to him for his efforts.

The Court’s ruling means that Lerner’s claims, as pleaded by G&S, shall continue.  That parties are in the midst of fact discovery, which is due to be concluded by the end of the year, with trial anticipated for 2016.