Stadium Jumping, Inc. Free to Pursue New Show Grounds
FOSJ Motion for Temporary Injunction Denied
Wellington, FL – January 19, 2007 – The motion for temporary injunction by the Friends of Stadium Jumping (FOSJ) and Mark Bellissimo, has been denied by Circuit Court Judge David F. Crow, in Circuit Court of the 15th Judicial Circuit of Florida in and for Palm Beach County,
In the ruling the Judge Crow wrote, “In order for the Plaintiff (FOSJ) to obtain extraordinary relief of a temporary injunction, it must establish a clear legal right to the relief requested and a substantial likelihood of success of the merits. Based upon the evidence, testimony and affidavits, the Court finds the Plaintiff has failed to establish this burden.”
In today’s ruling, Judge Crow said, “There are clear and factual disputes between the parties as to whether the 2005 document is, in fact, a binding agreement between the parties enforceable by way of a specific performance or a non-binding agreement which is essentially an “agreement to agree” because certain essential terms remain open and subject to further negotiation and/or determination. In turn, the dispute is based upon the ambiguous nature of the document itself and any ultimate determination would be dependent on the intent of the parties, measure not only from this document, but also words and conduct of the parties prior to and subsequent to the execution of this document.”
The judge further stated, regarding the “agreement” that would require Stadium Jumping to continue operating at the same location for the next thirty years, “If enforcement of the alleged agreement is not available by way of permanent injunction, there is no clear legal right to temporary injunction. Based upon the testimony and evidence at the hearing, such a permanent injunction could involve this Court in supervising further performance including possible selection of locations, monitoring the Plaintiff’s development, monitoring compliance and reviewing changes in circumstances over the years. Therefore, the Court finds, at this stage, the Plaintiff has failed to establish a clear legal right to the permanent relief as allegedly set forth in the agreement.”
The Court ordered the parties to mediate this matter within thirty days. A hearing will be scheduled to establish the protocols for the mediation.
“I think Judge Crow hit the nail on the head in his ruling today,” said James M. McCann, the attorney representing Stadium Jumping, Inc. “He showed a complete understanding of the facts of the case. We will go to the mediation in hopes of resolving this issue and negotiating the best deal possible for our client.”
“While the ruling speaks for itself, it is safe to say that this ruling sets a clear path for Stadium Jumping, its president Gene Mische and its board of directors to continue to seek alternative sites, should we not be able to come to agreement with our current landlord,” McCann added.
“Given the history of the negotiations, and the lack of any meaningful discussion to ensure Stadium Jumping’s longevity and permanency, we still aren’t holding out much hope of staying in the current, smaller footprint, as proposed,” said Stadium Jumping, Inc. President Gene Mische. “And now that this ruling has been made, our sole focus can be directed back to ensuring permanency for the showgrounds and our efforts to keep it right here in Wellington. Before this emergency hearing,” he added, “we were very pleased with the response from the community in terms of alternate sites. Based on these conversations, it is easy to see the strong support and commitment to keeping the showgrounds in the community.”
McCann pointed out that a number of things will have to happen for any progress to be made. “As we have said, they have not presented a formal lease proposal, but a mere term sheet with conditions that would not allow Stadium Jumping to continue at its present location. As a reminder, these conditions included profit sharing, reduced acreage, cannibalized business and more control over shows,” he said. “We remain completely open to a meaningful proposal. Since this so-called “emergency injunction” was put into play, we are still yet to receive any proposal based on our issues. The ball is in their court now and they have to step up and do what’s right for Stadium Jumping as a tenant and for the community.”
Mische added, “We cannot stand by and watch the future of the showgrounds be put into jeopardy based on the inaction of Wellington Equestrian Partners. If permanency cannot be reached, the only viable alternative is to find another location, one where the necessary acreage is available and one where a world-class facility can be built to be around for generations to come,” he said. “Contrary to what the Wellington Equestrian Partners have communicated, there is absolutely no mission other than to ensure permanency of the showgrounds and to ensure its successful operation as a world-class showgrounds.”
“We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from the community and the county, as well as the countless equestrian community leaders in support of continuity of the showgrounds,” said Mische. “People were surprised by the Trojan horse, but now they are educated about the true plight of the showgrounds, and can help us better understand and explore available options. At the end of the day, our main concern is what it has always been-ensuring permanency of the showgrounds for future generations. We hope that it is in Wellington,” he said.
“Our next step will be to finalize whether there is any interest on the part of the landlord to keep the showgrounds in its current home.” Mische concluded, “If not, we will pursue the opportunities that have been made available to us. While we don’t have any announcements today, now that the court has ruled to allow us to explore alternative sites, we plan on ramping up those efforts and hope to have an announcement in the next few weeks.”