Breach of Contract Lawsuit Filed by Donald Trump
In recent breach of contract news affecting Orlando, Donald Trump recently sued Jose Andres’ company ThinkFoodGroup LLC for breach of contract. Trump and Andres entered into a contract and ten year lease for Andres to open a premier Hispanic-themed restaurant in Trump’s high profile re-development of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C. Andres is a celebrity chef whose ThinkFoodGroup owns or operates a slew of trendy restaurants. Not long after announcing the partnership, Donald Trump made his now famous/infamous public comments associating Mexican immigrants with drugs, crime and calling them “rapists,” which led to the Orlando breach of contract drama.
After Trump’s disparaging comments, Andres, who is of Spanish ancestry, announced that it was now “impossible” to work with Mr. Trump, that he could not go forward with the contract and would not open a restaurant in Trump’s development. Trump defended his statements afterward. Hispanic advocates attacked Trump and several Trump business partners, in addition to Andres, cut ties with him afterward.
Notwithstanding, Trump, as he promised, sued Andres’ company for breach of contract for violating the terms of the ten year lease. The breach of contract lawsuit alleged that Mr. Trump’s views on immigration were well known, so Andres had no reason to breach the contract. Trump seeks to recover ten million dollars in his suit.
Andres has recently fought back by filing his own breach of contract counterclaim against the Trump organization, seeking more than $8 million in damages. Andres’s suit alleges that Trump’s anti-Hispanic comments breached the parties’ contract, because he made it impossible for Andres to recruit staff and attract enough customers for a Hispanic restaurant associated with Trump’s name, and that raising capital to finance the restaurant suddenly became a very risky venture.
Andres’ lawsuit says that Trump’s anti-Hispanic statements themselves constituted a breach of the parties’ contract, entitling him to $8 million in damages. Trump’s lawsuit says Andres breached the parties contract by failing to open and operate a restaurant. Trump alleges his views on immigration were well known and could not possibly constitute a breach of contract.
Resolution of the lawsuit may involve intense factual discovery regarding Trump’s views on immigration and Hispanics generally, and if and when these views became public. Trump would try and argue that the views were public at or before the time of the contract, and if that is so, then they would be incorporated into the parties’ contract as the views were within the contemplation of the parties at the time the contract was entered into. Therefore, Trump’s statements could not possibly constitute a breach of contract. On the other hand, Andres would argue that any such statements were not in the public domain or known to Andres at the time of the contract. Additionally, given that the restaurant had a Hispanic theme, any publicly aired derogatory statements about Hispanics would damage the venture and hurt its prospects, lending support to Andres’ breach of contract action.