Former RecoverCare CEO Mark Bidner answers Glenview mansion suit: 'John Lenihan is desperate to raise cash'
The battle started last month when upper crust real estate executive executive John Lenihan sued society-page fixture and former RecoverCare CEO Mark Bidner over Bidner’s purchase of a $4.4 million Glenview estate.
In his response, Bidner is accusing Lenihan of using the suit as a legal maneuver – a desperate bid to raise cash after Lenihan withdrew from the purchase of a multi-million dollar Aspen condominium.
And just to keep things interesting, Bidner’s ex-wife has joined the fray, claiming Mark Bidner owes her more than $120,000 from a December judgement in Los Angeles, giving her a claim on the proceeds if Lenihan succeeds in foreclosing on the estate.
The dispute hit the courts Feb. 21 when Lenihan sued Bidner, claiming he has the right to be paid in full for the $2.24 million balance owed on a mansion and a 5.6 acre-property in the ultra-Old Money enclave.
In John and Elizabeth Lenihan and Mark and Merideth Bidner, the legal showdown pits two high-profile couples who attend many of the same fundraisers and social events including the Speed Ball earlier this month.
Lenihan – who owns the Sotheby’s International Realty franchise for Louisville – partially financed the Bidners’ purchase of the property at 4008 Glenview Ave.
In the Jefferson Circuit Court suit, Lenihan’s attorney stated that when Bidner and his wife Merideth Bidner borrowed $2.24 million of the estate’s $4.4 million purchase price from Lenihan, the promissory note the couple signed contained a key stipulation they not encumber the mortgage without Lenihan’s written permission.
Court records and Jefferson County Clerks records show the Bidners took out a $2.5 million second mortgage on September 23, 2011, about seven months after they purchased the property and about three weeks after Mark Bidner resigned as RecoverCare CEO. The mortagee is Bidner’s company, WoundCo., which owns RecoverCare, a Louisville-based medical supply company.
In a response filed yesterday by his lawyer, as well as in an interview with Insider Louisville, Bidner counters Lenihan is in dire financial straits, and the suit is a desperate gambit.
“John Lenihan is trying to get me to pay (the note) early … because he needs to raise the cash,” Bidner told Insider Louisville late last week. “He’s in a tight spot and I feel sorry for him. But I have to do the right thing.”
The right thing, Bidner added, would be repaying the promissory note when it comes due in Februrary 2013. (Editor’s note: Lenihan is accusing Bidner of a non-monetary default. That Bidner violated terms of the agreement, not that he missed interest payment due on the promissory note.)
Lenihan’s attorney Eric Ison at Bingham Greenbaum Doll scoffed at Bidner’s claim.
“In response to Mr. Bidner’s wreckless allegations that Mr. Lenihan is in financial trouble, those allegations are absolutely false,” Ison said.
Last week, Goldberg told Insider Louisville Lenihan was aware of the second mortage, and part of the proceeds was used for renovations.
The Bidners’ lengthy answer – 17 pages – filed by Goldberg states Lenihan’s attorney was notified by email that the Bidners intended to take a second mortgage on the property, with closing documents and emails entered as exhibits.
But the heart of Goldberg’s reply is the claim of a connection between the Bidner suit and Leninan’s withdrawal from the purchase of a $3.4 million condominium in the sky resort town of Telluride, Colo. last month.
Lenihan “failed to pay the full earnest money deposit due on the condominium unit, which was due only days before the … action against the Bidners,” the reply states.
Documents filed by Bidner in the response, as well as document acquired by Insider Louisville, show Lenihan forfeited earnest money as liquidated damages, not the full purchase amount of the condo.
The forfeiture was about $319,000, though the Lenihans already had deposited $159,530, according to court documents.
Lenihan declined to discuss the suit.
His attorney Ison said, “Unfortunately, Mr. Bidner is using the press to litigate the claim. Mr. Lenihan will litigate this in the courts, where it properly should be litigated.
“With respect to the main claims, we won’t dignify them with a response, and we’ll see Mr. and Mrs. Bidner in court.”
In a related development, Ellen Bidner, Mark Bidner’s ex-wife, is a co-defendant in Lenihan’s suit, claiming she’s entitled to any proceeds should the estate be sold because of a judgement against Mark Bidner in Los Angeles.
The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, awarded Ellen Bidner a full year of support payments. The judgement totals more than $120,000 – $10,000 per month – plus interest at 12 percent per year related to her 2006 divorce from Mark Bidner.
Lexington attorney Michael Davidson, who is handling the claim for Ellen Bidner, did not return calls for comment.
More as we know more.