June 25, 2008

Judge Named, but Ex-Baltimore Raven Michael McCrary Lawsuit Waits a Day

By Brendan Kearney

Tuesday's scheduled trial was delayed for one more day in ex- Raven Michael McCrary's fraud suit, in which he claims his business associates cheated him out of insurance proceeds on a New Orleans condominium project that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Visiting Judge Paul E. Alpert has been assigned to the case. A retired appellate judge who hears cases by special assignment in Baltimore City Circuit Court, Alpert presided over a settlement conference in the case a month ago but only received the inches- thick file Tuesday morning.

With all defendants precluded from contesting liability and all but one precluded from challenging damages, Wednesday's trial will consist of McCrary's lawyers arguing that he is entitled to $15 million in compensatory and $40 million in punitive damages.

To support the punitive damages claim, McCrary's attorney, Kenneth B. Frank, expects to call Richard Bliss to testify. Bliss is a Washington lawyer and investor who, according to Frank and The (Baltimore) Sun, brought a successful fraud suit in the mid-1990s against Stuart C. "Neil" Fisher, one of the defendants in McCrary's case.

The sole defendant that can participate in the current trial is Giannasca Crescent City LLC. It is owned by Edward V. Giannasca II, McCrary's business partner in the condominium project. Giannasca, who has failed to appear since promising last week to bring an accountant to court on Monday, could not be reached for comment at his New York, Pennsylvania or Street telephone numbers.

Frank and a defense lawyer, Richard Winelander, each said they don't expect any of the defendants to attend Wednesday's trial.

On Tuesday, Alpert found yet another defendant in contempt of court. He barred Market Street Properties Palm Beach LLC, an investment entity owned by co-defendant Tamara J. Fisher, from participating in the trial.

Tamara's ex-husband, Stuart Fisher, has an outstanding warrant for his arrest for ignoring court orders in the case.

Originally published by Brendan Kearney.

(c) 2008 The Daily Record (Baltimore). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.