Baton Rouge developer J.T. “Tommy” Spinosa still has no defenses or counterclaims against an Ohio lender attempting to foreclose for more than $170 million allegedly owed on his Perkins Rowe mixed-use development.
Spinosa did not respond Friday to telephone and email requests for comment on the loss of his appeal in the federal court suit.
But Mark R. Beebe, the developer’s lead attorney in the 27-month-old dispute, said an appellate panel’s refusal to restore Spinosa’s court-filed defenses and counterclaims does not end the litigation.
“Our appeal rights are still alive,” Beebe said.
Bank officials were pleased by the appellate panel’s decision, which was filed Monday.
“We believe that the court’s ruling is correct,” said Laura J. Mimura, spokeswoman for KeyBank National Association in Cleveland.
Spinosa had asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to overturn a June decision by U.S. District Judge James J. Brady to strip him of all defenses and counterclaims against KeyBank.
Brady had ruled that Spinosa and several of his firms had repeatedly refused to provide KeyBank with requested documents. Brady also said Spinosa had missed deadlines for identifying documents that could be excluded because they dealt only with strategy discussions between the developer and his attorneys.
The punishment imposed on Spinosa “is punitive and extreme by any measure,” Beebe and co-counsel Louis C. LaCour Jr. wrote the 5th Circuit on Aug. 3.
“It strips Perkins Rowe (and Spinosa) of its right to defend itself against the claims made by KeyBank,” Beebe and LaCour added.
Beebe and LaCour asked the 5th Circuit to block foreclosure proceedings.
F. Scott Kaiser, an attorney for KeyBank, countered that the repeated refusal of Spinosa and his Perkins Rowe firms to comply with court-ordered release of documents “strengthens the argument for dismissal” of their defenses.
Kaiser asked the 5th Circuit to dismiss the Spinosa appeal.
The KeyBank attorney won a unanimous decision from Circuit Judges W. Eugene Davis, of Lafayette; Carl E. Stewart, of Shreveport; and Edward C. Prado, of San Antonio, Texas.
The three-judge panel granted KeyBank dismissal of Spinosa’s appeal. Davis, Stewart and Prado also denied Spinosa’s request to halt the foreclosure case.
Spinosa’s dismissed counterclaims included the allegation that KeyBank cost him and his firms about $11 million by interfering in the sale of dozens of condominiums prior to the nationwide real estate crash of late 2008.
KeyBank denied that allegation.
The lender alleged that Spinosa and his firms had fraudulently diverted loan proceeds from Perkins Rowe to other purposes.
Spinosa denied that allegation.
In August, Brady granted KeyBank a summary judgment against Spinosa and his firms in the $170 million foreclosure action.
KeyBank officials declined then, and again Friday, to discuss the foreclosure process and the estimated time required for its completion.
But KeyBank’s Mimura said in August that Perkins Rowe remains a vibrant development. She said foreclosure would not alter the bustling business on 23 acres near the intersection of Perkins Road and Bluebonnet Boulevard.
Beebe, the Spinosa attorney, said Brady has not yet entered a final judgment in the court file in Baton Rouge.
“After a final judgment is entered … the Perkins Rowe defendants will have the right to appeal the district court’s decisions,” Beebe said. “Perkins Rowe will have excellent grounds upon which to base its (next) appeal.”
Perkins Rowe is Spinosa’s most ambitious development.
It includes 229 apartments, 88 condominiums, more than 60 shops and restaurants, a movie complex, grocery store, pharmacy, office space and two parks.