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Updated: July 2, 2019

Hartford prevails in DoNo ballpark lawsuit

Photo | HBJ File Downtown Hartford's Dunkin' Donuts ballpark.

The city of Hartford has prevailed in a long-running legal battle with the contractor fired from constructing the city’s Dunkin’ Donuts ballpark downtown.

Capping a civil suit that spanned nearly three years, a Superior Court jury on Tuesday decided that Middletown-based Centerplan Construction and DoNo Hartford LLC -- companies both controlled by Robert Landino -- must pay the city $335,000, court records show.

The jury found that Centerplan and DoNo were responsible for the delays that led the city to fire Centerplan as ballpark builder and terminate its related Downtown North redevelopment pact. That spurred the companies to file suit. 

An attorney for the companies, Raymond Garcia, said Tuesday afternoon that his clients would appeal the verdict.

At a press conference Tuesday, Bronin said the unanimous verdict vindicates his decision to fire Centerplan, following cost overruns and delays on the stadium project.

“There were a lot of people who questioned whether that was the right decision,” he said. “I believed strongly then and I think it’s clear today that it was.”

HBJ Photo | Matt Pilon
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin at City Hall.

Bronin said that one possible outcome he wanted to avoid was the city being left with “a half-built hunk of concrete and steel where baseball is never played.”

The ruling clears the way for Hartford's second choice as DoNo developer, Randy Salvatore, to begin work on his $200 million vision to remake the DoNo quadrant with housing, office, retail space and parking.

It wasn’t clear Tuesday exactly how quickly things might move.

“We look forward to moving as quickly as we can,” Bronin said. “One thing I’ve learned through this process is not to make promises on dates.” 

In a statement, Salvatore, chairman and CEO of developer RMS Cos. in Stamford, said "we are ready to go to work and look forward to breaking ground on this transformative project."

After the city terminated its agreements, Centerplan soon filed a $90 million lawsuit. The city filed a counterclaim in 2017, alleging breach of contract, negligence and professional malpractice.

Meantime, Arch Insurance hired a new contractor to complete Centerplan’s work on the stadium.

Arch went after Centerplan in court, winning a $39 million judgement earlier this year.

This story has been updated

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