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State Supreme Court orders trial over firing of original Hartford ballpark developer

The judgment of the 2019 lawsuit is now reversed, and the case determining the justification for terminating the contractor has been remanded for new trial

HARTFORD, Conn. — The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday for a new trial into the termination of the contractor initially responsible for the construction of Hartford's Dunkin' Donuts Park.

The city terminated the original developers Centerplan Construction Co and DoNo Hartford LLC, in 2017, with Mayor Luke Bronin saying at the time it was due to a "lack of capacity and experience...compounded by a lack of honesty and transparency."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: City of Hartford wins lawsuit against former Dunkin’ Donuts Park developers

He also said at the time the contractor failed to deliver the ballpark on time, do the work well, or pay numerous subcontractors, claiming Centerplan violated their development agreement.

The developers in July 2016 filed a $90 million lawsuit challenging the termination. The judgment of the 2019 lawsuit the city won has been reversed, and the case determining the justification for terminating the contractor has been remanded for a new trial.

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In its ruling, the Supreme Court stated that legal control of architect and stadium design was transferred from the city to the contractors when the term sheet was executed from May 2015 to January 2016.

In this new trial, a fact-finder has been charged to find whether Centerplan ratified the term sheet and determine the extent of legal control of the architect and stadium design. The fact-finder would also be assigned to determine whether the term sheet granted the city an unqualified right or assignment of preexisting right. They would also have to conclude whether the city breached the contract by failing to provide Centerplan advanced notice before terminating the building agreement.

RELATED: Students from all over the state fill Dunkin Donuts Park on Baseball in Education Day

With this new trial, the city could be liable for millions of dollars in damages to Centerplan and DoNo.

"The Court's decision to order a new trial is disappointing, and we strongly disagree with the decision," Bronin's office told FOX61 in a statement Thursday. "That said, we believe that the facts are clear and that a new trial will result, once again, in a decision in Hartford's favor. If the city hadn’t fired Centerplan when we did, there would be no baseball in Hartford today, no development around the ballpark, and Hartford taxpayers would have been on the hook for tens of millions of dollars wasted by Centerplan — with nothing to show for it.” 

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