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Oyster Bay, restaurant owner to go to trial over $1.3M jury award

Cafe Al Dente, which was shut by the

Cafe Al Dente, which was shut by the Town of Oyster Bay, is shown on Oct. 10, 2013. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The deadline to reach a settlement between Oyster Bay and the former owner of café across from town hall passed without an agreement last week, setting the stage for a trial over damages.

Last month U.S. District Judge Leonard D. Wexler overturned a $1.3 million jury award to Cafe Al Dente owner Philip Morizio, calling the amount “excessive.” Wexler recommended an award of $450,000 and advised the parties to settle.

Morizio’s attorney, John Palmer of Mineola, advised Wexler in an Aug. 8 letter to the court that “no settlement has been reached.”

The town’s outside legal counsel, Christopher Kendric, of Garden City-based Kendric Law Group PC, said in an email that settlement discussions had stalled and blamed the plaintiff for not being “reasonable.”

“The town remains willing to amicably resolve this case,” Kendric said.

The parties are now due to return for a trial on Sept. 19 on the damages. In June a jury had found that the Town of Oyster Bay, former planning and development commissioner Frederick Ippolito, and a building inspector had denied Morizio his 14th Amendment right to due process when the town padlocked his restaurant in 2013.

Earlier this month Morizio’s former landlord sued the town for $6 million, alleging that the town’s actions had caused them property damage, lost income, and devalued their property which they ultimately sold.

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