Defendants Petition Court to Dismiss Pudding Suit
The Harvard-controlled Holyoke Street Nominee Trust and the Institute of 1770--the umbrella organization for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and Social Club--have asked a court to dismiss the suit brought against them by the restaurant Up Stairs at the Pudding early last month.
William I. Cowin, the restaurant's attorney, said Friday that he had received the response to his client's Sept. 1 suit from the trust and the institute, though the documents will not be available at Middlesex County Courthouse until Cowin files his own response.
The graduate board of the institute based its motion to dismiss on the grounds that they "have been terminated and no longer have an interest in the building," Cowin said.
Maureen E. Curran, the institute's attorney, confirmed that her clients' filed a motion to dismiss, but would not comment further.
Cowin said that the trustees of the Holyoke Street Nominee Trust--set up in 1986 with Harvard as the beneficiary--asked the court to dismiss the case because the trust no longer owns 12 Holyoke Street, the land the Hasty Pudding Building sits on. The trust transferred ownership of the property to Harvard last year.
Cowin said that he would likely accept the trust's motion to dismiss. He added that his clients, Mary Catherine Deibel and Deborah Hughes, owners of Up Stairs, would probably then sue Harvard directly.
The restaurant's suit and the ensuing legal wrangling have come amid negotiations between Harvard and the institute about ownership of the Hasty Pudding building.
Last spring, representatives of the institute signed a letter of intent saying that they would transfer ownership of the building to Harvard in return for forgiveness of the group's large debts to the University.
The two sides have spent nearly six months trying to hammer out details.
Associate Dean of the College David P. Illingworth '71 said Friday that Harvard should own the building soon--a sharp departure from the concern he has expressed in recent weeks about getting the building in time to start renovations on the space next spring.
"We are progressing as if the building is going to be soon owned by Harvard," Illingworth said. "From legal counsel, I have been told to expect its going to happen."
Regardless of who owns the building--and of Harvard's $10 million plans to turn the space into a student theater--the restaurant's owners are hoping to remain in its current location in the Hasty Pudding building, and asked the court in its suit to declare that its lease lets them stay.
--Staff writer Joyce K. McIntyre can be reached at email@example.com.