Billionaire supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis says he’s just “fighting for the little guy” — by refusing to pay lawyers who sued him for not compensating his workers.
The former Republican mayoral candidate was back in Manhattan federal court Tuesday to settle yet another tab with lawyers representing Gristedes workers who claim they were ripped off on overtime.
Catsimatidis ultimately agreed to make another $99,000 in payments to the lawyers — chump change considering the decade-old case has already cost him more than $8 million — but not before pontificating that he recently asked the US Supreme Court to take the case because it’s a “national issue.”
“I’m fighting for the little guy. The little guy this law firm [Outten & Golden] goes after all the time,” the big rich guy told Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck.
“As a settlement, I’d love to give a check to charity, but I hate to give it to them. All they’re defending is their right to go after me.”
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“We went to the Supreme Court to hear a decision on whether a corporate officer that does not run the company day to day can be held personally responsible,” said the tycoon, whose net worth is $3 billion.
Plaintiffs’ lawyer Justin Swartz later said, “It’s been a very long time since Mr. Catsimatidis was a little guy.”
“I fully support Mr. Catsimatidis giving as much money as he wants to charity, but I also worked for my fee and I should get paid,” he said. “The point is when you break the federal wage law, you have to pay for the other side’s fees for arguing the case.”
Unlike a September hearing in which the billionaire showed up two hours late, Catsimatidis arrived to court on time Tuesday in compliance with a Peck order that he not be tardy again.
During the earlier hearing he agreed to pay another $645,000 in legal fees as part of the settlement and supposedly put the 10-year-old case to bed.
Catsimatidis was previously ordered by two separate courts to shell out $3.9 million in legal fees and then personally pay $3.5 million for a settlement.