Appellate court sides with city of Peoria in lawsuit filed by former Pere Marquette developers
The state's Fourth District Appellate Court agrees with a lower court's decision to dismiss allegations lodged against the city of Peoria by two former downtown hotel developers.
Gary Matthews and Monte Brannan were behind the redevelopment of the Pere Marquette and the construction of an adjoining Marriott hotel.
That deal went sour, eventually leading to the city losing out on $7 million loaned to the project.
Matthews and Brannon sued in 2019, claiming that the city's meddling played a key role in the failure of the hotels. They asked the Peoria County Circuit Court to order the city to award them $9.3 million in damages, and an additional $1.4 million each for each person's shares in hotel development company GEM Hospitality.
But in a Rule 23 slip filed Friday, the appellate court found Matthews and Brannan were not personally parties to any of the contracts allegedly breached by the city of Peoria, and therefore their tort claims are moot. That was essentially the position argued by the city's legal counsel during oral arguments last month.
The agreements were between the city and companies affiliated with Matthews, but not the men personally. Matthews was personally a party to a side letter mentioned in an amended complaint, but the court said there wasn't an allegation the side letter was breached.
On the first appeal, the appellate court had said they lacked jurisdiction pending a final ruling or order in Peoria County Circuit Court. Brannan and Matthews filed a second appeal after a dismissal order was filed last December.
Matthews and Brannan were indicted by a federal grand jury in 2020 on charges they used hotel investment funds to enrich themselves and their other businesses over a ten-year-long period. A trial in federal court is set to start on Oct. 16.