The Business Litigation Blog

Restaurateurs Serve Up Unpalatable Accusations of Piggish Misconduct Over Popular River North Restaurant

Scott Harris, founder and chef of the popular Chicago-River North restaurant the Purple Pig, has sued fellow members and investors for embezzling the restaurant’s revenues, destroying records, diluting Harris’ ownership, and freezing him out of the restaurant’s bank accounts.  The parties from whom Harris seeks relief include co-founding partner Jimmy Bannos Sr., his son and fellow chef Jimmy Bannos Jr., investors Gary Veselsky and Tony Mantuano, and general manager Laura Payne.  Harris seeks over $500,000.00 in actual damages, over $1,000,000.00 in punitive damages, an accounting of the restaurant’s finances, and the removal of the Bannoses from ownership.

Harris’ meatiest accusations are directed at the Bannoses for misappropriating revenues towards “abusive” personal spending and devising a kickback scheme to dodge tax obligations.  Harris also claims that Payne participated in the scheme and Veselsky and Mantuano knew about it, and that the parties collectively reduced Harris’ ownership share without his consent and kept him out of other managerial decisions.  

In response, the defendants have filed a counterclaim, mounting a barrage of accusations against Harris, including forging Bannos Sr.’s signature on a loan forbearance agreement, converting over $65,000.00 of Purple Pig funds, opening competing restaurants, stealing Bannos Jr.’s recipes, and various other breaches of contract and fiduciary duty.  The defendant-counter-plaintiffs contend that Harris filed a groundless lawsuit in order to obtain leverage over the other members, and seek judicial dissociation of Harris from Purple Pig, in addition to compensatory and punitive damages.

Early on, the court denied Harris’ request for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order.  Harris also filed and subsequently withdrew an emergency motion demanding the release of certain checks in the possession of the Bannoses. The litigation is currently proceeding through the discovery phase with the issuance of subpoenas. 

If you have questions about a business litigation matter, do not hesitate to call the attorneys at the Patterson Law Firm for guidance at 312.223.1699. We can advise you on your legal rights and help you choose the best course of action for your case. Or if you are in Minnesota, reach out to Mauzy Law firm, the best Minneapolis criminal defense law firm

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