Hornblower to appeal dismissal of suit on Maid of the Mist deal - The Buffalo News
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Hornblower to appeal dismissal of suit on Maid of the Mist deal

NIAGARA FALLS – The California company that challenged a deal giving the Maid of the Mist Corp. the right to build a boat dock and storage facility on the American side of the Falls said Friday it will appeal a judge’s dismissal of its lawsuit.

Hornblower Yachts – which came out on the wrong end of Thursday’s decision from State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Nugent-Panepinto – plans to continue its legal fight, said Richard Jacobs, the company’s general counsel.

“We’re obviously disappointed with the decision,” Jacobs said. “I think it’s a $100 million error by Judge Panepinto.”

The lawsuit filed earlier this year sought to nullify an agreement reached between the state and the Maid of the Mist allowing for the dock facility to be constructed. Construction of the facility was seen as crucial to keep the company in operation on the American side.

Under the deal announced last November by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Maid of the Mist, the tourism venue agreed to triple its annual rent payments to the state, an amount expected to reach $105 million in the three decades left on the contract.

Jacobs, repeating statements previously made by company representatives, on Friday again said Hornblower would have paid the state $100 million more than it will receive under its deal with the Maid.

Jacobs said the company expects it will win the case on appeal.

Hornblower officials, who won the rights to operate boat tours on the Canadian side starting next year, insisted the project should have included an open, public bidding process.

Nugent-Panepinto, in her ruling, said she had to defer to the state agencies’ conclusions that no public bidding was required because it was only an “amendment” to a 2002 deal. The Maid is paying $32 million for the construction of the dock and storage facility.

In her decision, she also wrote that Hornblower did not have the legal standing to challenge the deal.

On Thursday, an attorney for the company called the judge’s decision “further confirmation that we did the right thing.”

email: abesecker@buffnews.com

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