He operates on billionaire time!
Supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis showed up more than two hours late for a court-ordered appearance on Thursday in Manhattan federal court in which he eventually agreed to settle another tab with opposing lawyers representing Gristedes workers who claim they were ripped off for overtime.
The failed Republican mayoral candidate, who lives on the Upper East Side, arrived in style in his chauffeur-driven Mercedes at 11:40 a.m. for the 9:30 a.m. appearance before Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck. He agreed to pay $645,000 in legal fees as part of the settlement.
But, prior to that, an antsy Judge Peck repeatedly asked Gristedes’ lawyers where their client was – and twice even had opposing lawyer Justin Swartz offer them his cell phone to call the billionaire and see what was keeping him.
“I believe his attitude today [in showing up late] is indicative of his attitude through this entire case,” Swartz told the Post afterwards.
Catsimatidis — who was previously ordered by two separate courts to shell out $3.9 million in legal fees and then personally shell out $3.5 million for a settlement in the nearly-decade-old case — blamed his tardiness on having to re-arrange his busy agenda.
“The judge issued that order 7 o’clock, 8 o’clock last night, so I had to rearrange my schedule,” said Catsimatidis, adding that he repeatedly updated “his people” after the hearing started that he was in commute, so they could tell Peck he was “on the way.”
At 9:30 a.m., when Peck first asked what time Catsimatidis would show, his lawyers said they expected him by 10 am. When he asked again at 10 am, his lawyers then claimed he would be arriving “soon.”
Following the hearing, Catsimatidis said he’s not giving up the fight in the wages case – even though two different courts have already ruled against him.
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In July, the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals found Catsimatidis personally responsible for a $3.5 million settlement that his Gristdes stores had struck with the workers.
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Two months earlier, the same appeals panel also upheld a Manhattan federal judge’s decision ordering Catsimatidis to fork over nearly $3.9 million in legal fees to the lawyers for the workers. He has begun making those payments, Swartz said.
Heading into Thursday’s hearing, Catsimatidis was offering to shell out $375,000 in extra legal fees while Swartz was seeking $810,000.
“It’s been a long fight for a good cause,” Swartz said. “The most important thing is that my clients get compensated for their hard work.”