José Andrés Files for Summary Judgement in Trump Countersuit

D.C.-based superchef José Andrés of ThinkFoodGroup has filed for a summary judgment in his countersuit against the Trump Organization, showing confidence his case is so straightforward it doesn’t need to go to trial.

The countersuit is an answer to Donald Trump’s suit of ThinkFoodGroup for cancelling plans to open a Spanish restaurant in the D.C. Trump Hotel, set to open in September 2016. The Trump Organization originally sought $10 million for Andres’s breach of contract. But Andrés’s company argues Trump broke their contract first, since Trump’s disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants in June 2015 made it impossible for ThinkFoodGroup to sustain their involvement with the foolhardy candidate.

The summary judgment filing cites emails which reveal frustration among Trump’s executives regarding the comments responsible for the whole legal mess. The emails, Andrés’s company argues, show that even Trump’s colleagues recognized he had severely damaged the outlook for their partnership with the Spanish chef and his 50 percent Hispanic team.

On June 25, ThinkFoodGroup emailed Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter and executive vice president of development and acquisitions, complaining it was “getting crushed” with backlash to Trump’s comments. A petition with over 2,700 signatures would ultimately call for Andrés to break ties with Trump. She forwarded the email to David Orowitz, senior vice president of business development.

“Ugh, this is not surprising and would expect this will not be the last that we hear of it,” Orowitz replied. “At least for formal prepared speeches, can someone vet going forward? Hopefully the Latino community does not organize against us more broadly in DC / across Trump properties.”

It’s yet unclear how successful Trump associates’ efforts have been at vetting him. But Hispanic voters are flocking to polls to vote against Trump in the primary.

Trump Organization’s general counsel Alan Garten dismissed the emails as a “red herring,” a distraction from the fact that due to an argument over the restaurant’s floor plans, Andrés and his partners had been attempting to terminate the contract weeks before Trump’s comments went viral.

While results of the summary judgment remain to be seen, the high-end chain BLT Prime is slated to fill the space originally intended for Andrés’s restaurant. Perhaps this all-American steakhouse is better suited to Trump’s taste.

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