Judge orders mediation in city’s lawsuit against Oread hotel

The Oread Hotel, 1200 Oread Ave.

The judge presiding over the lawsuit filed by the City of Lawrence alleging Oread hotel developer Thomas Fritzel engaged in a fraudulent tax scheme has ordered mediation in the case.

The mediation order was filed in federal court Friday, and said that following a discussion with attorneys representing the city and Fritzel, the decision had been made that the parties should meet with a mediator.

“After thorough discussion with counsel regarding the responsive pleading deadlines and current posture of the case, the court enters the following orders: Based upon the discussions during the conference, the court believes this case would benefit from early mediation.”

No further explanation for the order was given, only that the order was made following a telephone conference on Thursday that was requested by the parties in the lawsuit to discuss initial scheduling of the case.

On Nov. 16, the city filed a lawsuit against Fritzel, Oread Wholesale, Oread Inn, DFC Company of Lawrence, as well as any other individuals who may have aided in the alleged scheme. The lawsuit alleges personal purchases and faked retail sales as grounds to terminate the multimillion-dollar incentive agreement the city made with The Oread hotel, 1200 Oread Ave.

Friday was the deadline for Fritzel to file a response to the city’s allegations, but because of the mediation order, the deadline has been stayed, according to the order. The judge, Gwynne E. Birzer, ordered the parties to participate in mediation with mediator Jerry Palmer on Feb. 14.

Following the mediation, the court will initiate a telephone conference with representatives for both parties to discuss the status, according to the order. The status conference is set for 10 a.m. on Feb. 21.

Attorneys representing the city and Fritzel could not be immediately reached for comment.