Ralph Brennan and partners ask federal judge to dismiss Brennan’s lawsuit

The new owners of the Royal Street building that up until June housed Brennan’s restaurant have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the restaurant’s owners seeking to have the establishment return to the property.

In the suit, Brennan’s owner Pip Brennan alleges that the foreclosure sale that led to his restaurant’s eviction was “defective as a matter of law” and should be nullified. An attorney for Leggo/4, the investment team that bought the restaurant at auction in May, dismissed the claim as “utterly conclusory,” in a request for dismissal filed Tuesday.

“Because the sale has been completed and the sheriff’s deed to Leggo/4 recorded in the public record of Orleans Parish, the sale itself is now otherwise immune from attack in any proceeding, on grounds of nullity or otherwise …” unless there was a violation of due process, attorney Kent Lambert wrote.

The matter is proceeding before U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan, one of the judges at the federal courthouse on Poydras Street.

Pip Brennan’s suit was filed in June, days before Orleans Parish sheriff deputies booted the restaurant workers from 417 Royal Street in between breakfast and lunch shifts. Many of the restaurant’s 100 employees didn’t learn that it had been shut down until they showed up for work the next morning.

The property had sold for $6.85 million in a foreclosure auction a month earlier to Leggo/4, an investment group that includes businessman Terry White and Ralph Brennan. Ralph Brennan, a restaurant owner and cousin of Pip Brennan, previously had no role in the Brennan’s restaurant.

The sale meant that Brennan’s would have needed a lease agreement with the building’s new owners to continue operating at the address. But the sides couldn’t come to an agreement and the restaurant was seized June 27.

Pip Brennan’s suit asks the court to demand that Leggo/4, White and Ralph Brennan pay him an amount equal to the value of the Royal Street property and/or to return the building to Brennan’s Inc. Pip Brennan said the sale should be voided because he, as the rightful owner of the business, didn’t have an opportunity to oppose the sale.

Pip Brennan won rights to the restaurant in June following a dispute with his brother, Ted Brennan, who had previously controlled the property and company. Their father Owen Brennan founded the restaurant in 1946 at Bourbon and Bienville streets. It moved to Royal Street in 1956.

The brothers are shareholders in the operation, which has been mired in debt.

Pip Brennan said in the suit that his brother colluded with Leggo/4 to allow the building to fall into foreclosure.

The request for dismissal calls Pip Brennan’s claims unfounded and notes that he did object to the building’s sale, but failed to post the $150,000 necessary to stop it.

Brennan’s owners have said they would exhaust all legal options in an effort to reopen the restaurant in its familiar pink building. But the restaurant was also considering three other sites in the event that its legal battle failed, Pip Brennan’s son Clark Brennan said last month.

Pip Brennan said Wednesday that he was aware of the motion to dismiss but declined to comment further or the restaurant’s plans, including when or where it might reopen.