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Published: Thursday, 1/17/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Appeals court voids purchase of Packo’s by Bennett’s firm

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Robin Horvath, a former co-owner of Packo’s who has been challenging the rulings in the civil case, filed a motion Monday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court requesting that Judge Zmuda halt all trial court proceedings until all matters in the case pending before the appeals court are decided. Robin Horvath, a former co-owner of Packo’s who has been challenging the rulings in the civil case, filed a motion Monday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court requesting that Judge Zmuda halt all trial court proceedings until all matters in the case pending before the appeals court are decided.
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A state appeals court has voided a December, 2011, ruling that approved the sale of Toledo’s Tony Packo Inc.’s restaurant chain to TP Foods LLC.

But the ruling Friday by the Ohio 6th Appellate Court left the door open for Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda to simply issue an order reconfirming the sale to TP Foods, which is owned by Toledo businessman Bob Bennett.

The court’s ruling did not change Packo’s ownership or operations.

Before Judge Zmuda can issue a new order, parties in the Packo’s civil case will have 45 days to contest the appellate court’s ruling in the Ohio Supreme Court.

Additionally, Robin Horvath, a former co-owner of Packo’s who has been challenging the rulings in the civil case, filed a motion Monday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court requesting that Judge Zmuda halt all trial court proceedings until all matters in the case pending before the appeals court are decided.

Parties in the case, which include Fifth Third Bank and court-appointed receiver Steven Skutch, have 14 days to respond to Mr. Horvath’s motion to stay all the trial court’s proceedings.

The appellate court ruling seemed to simultaneously throw out the sale to TP Foods while approving it.

The ruling was on a request by Mr. Horvath’s uncle, Tony Packo, Jr., to dismiss an appeal, made by Mr. Horvath, of two orders that Judge Zmuda made in December, 2011.

The orders instructed Mr. Skutch to execute a deal to sell Packo’s to TP Foods and to later confirm the sale with the court.

The appeals court ruled the two December orders were void.

It said Judge Zmuda had no authority to issue those orders because the appellate court had yet to rule on an October, 2011, appeal by Mr. Horvath that contested the judge’s choice of TP Foods as the best of three bids to buy the Packo’s chain.

Ultimately, the appeals court rejected Mr. Horvath’s October, 2011, appeal in early 2012.

But in its ruling Friday, the appeals court said Judge Zmuda now has the authority to reaffirm the sale to TP Foods and could issue a new order to that effect.

And if the judge issues such an order, Mr. Horvath can appeal it, the court said.

However, in the same ruling, the appeals court said there were no jurisdictional issues that would unwind the sale to TP foods, stating that the court’s control of the Packo’s receivership case gave it the jurisdictional power to allow the sale.

It instructed Judge Zmuda to determine whether to confirm the sale or set it aside.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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