Celebrity chef Jose Andres has responded to a lawsuit by business mogul Donald Trump with his own countersuit.
The Spanish-born chef, who recently became a U.S. citizen, filed his own lawsuit against the Republic presidential candidate late Wednesday, arguing that Trump is the one to blame for the fallout.
In July, Andres backed out of a deal to open a signature restaurant in a hotel Trump is building in Washington, D.C. Weeks later, the real estate mogul filed a $10 million lawsuit against Andres for breach of contract.
But Andres shot back this week, alleging in legal documents obtained by the Washington Post that Trump’s controversial comments earlier this year about undocumented Mexican immigrants constituted the initial breach of contract between the two.
The culinary team is seeking more than $8 million in damages from Trump.
Alan Garten, general counsel for Trump, told the Washington Post in statement that Andres’ filing is “legally meritless and clearly intended to divert focus away from his baseless decision to walk away from his obligations under the lease.”
“We are confident that the court will view it the same way and dismiss Mr. Andres’ claims accordingly,” Garten added.
Andres claimed he backed out of the deal because he did not want business ties with a man who disparaged the Latino community.
"More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests. And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status,” Andres said in a statement at the time.
The new 270-room Trump International Hotel is being built in the historic Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Capitol. It is slated to open in 2016 after a $200 million redevelopment.