Zeitlin vs. May Town: It's Weirder Than I Could Have Imagined



I finally had a chance to sit down with the court papers and read all about Jeffrey Zeitlin trying to sue as many members of the May family as he can name. It's weirder than I could have imagined last week. Yes, the exciting take-away for non-May Town junkies is that the partnership responsible for the May Town project did not own the land they were going to give to TSU.

But for those of us who cannot turn away from this story, the lawsuit has added layers of interest. The kinds of layers that make a blogger pause to ask, "Is Jack May our Lex Luthor? Can a real city have a super villain? If he is a super villain, do you think he can make a flying tank?" Okay, that last question is probably a little off topic. But you get the idea.

Join me after the jump, for nerdy goodness and conspiracies of injustice!

Okay, so here's what's going on in the lawsuit. Zeitlin is making two levels of claims, one explicitly and one implicitly.

One — Jack May and Frank May added general partners to the Bells Landing Partnership without unanimous consent of all partners.

This one is pretty easy to understand. Zeitlin and William Kantz formed a partnership — Bells Landing Investment LP — that owned the land out in Bells Bend. They had an idea for a green development there and asked Frank May what he thought. He thought it was such a good idea that he wanted the May family to be the only money behind the thing. So Frank May became a partner, and Jack May, who was supposed to be the money man, became a partner, and the partnership was renamed Bells Landing Partnership.

The pie was thus split four ways.

Zeitlin is accusing the Mays of adding five partners without his and Kantz's consent in violation of the express provisions of the Bells Landing Partnership agreement, thus dividing the pie up into more slices. Now Zeitlin doesn't own a quarter of Bells Landing Partnership (and the land it owns); he owns a ninth. You can see why this might piss a man off.

Therefore, he's arguing that the Mays couldn't legally add partners, so these new partners shouldn't be considered legal partners — and he's trying to get Frank and Jack May tossed from the partnership. This, also, is easy enough to understand. Zeitlin doesn't want to come out of this whole mess without the land he came into it with. Or owning only a ninth of the land when he used to own half.

Which brings us to the implicit accusation Zeitlin is making:

Two — the May family was trying to move from controlling half of the interest in Bells Landing Partnership to controlling at least two-thirds of Bells Landing Partnership.

The partners Jack and Frank May allegedly added to the Bells Landing Partnership were as follows: Cavalier Builders Partnership 2, Deborah Wolfman, Eric A. Seiden, HTPC 2, and BMP Partnership 2.

Before we get into who makes up the entities that Zeitlin says were made partners in the Bells Landing Partnership, let's talk a little about the family of Leon and Mimsye May. They had four children — Melanie, who married Doug Hirt; Jack; Frank, who married Diane; and Deborah, who married Neil Wolfman (see here for a lovely biography of Mrs. May). So: May, Hirt and Wolfman? All the same family.

And who were in these various partnerships, according to Zeitlin's lawsuit?

Cavalier Building Partnership 2: Jack May, Leon May Trust, Willie Wolfman, Celia Wolfman, Abraham May, David May, Rachel May, Jonathan May, Frank May, Jonathan Wolfman, and Neil Wolfman.

HTPC 2: Frank May, Jack May, Leon May Trust, Andrew Hirt, Kenneth Hirt, Celia Wolfman, Willie Wolfman, Melanie Hirt.

BMP Partnership 2: Melanie Hirt, William Wolfman, Celia Wolfman, Abraham May, David May, Rachel May, Jonathan May, Frank May, Jack May, Andrew Hirt, and Kenneth Hirt.

Interesting, huh? From this list, it appears as though Jack and Frank were just declaring themselves bigger and bigger partners without the consent of Zeitlin and Kantz, or at least giving the May family an ever-increasing stake.

You can see why Zeitlin would want to not only get them out of the partnership, but see them face some punitive repercussions.

But here's the bad news for Zeitlin and Kantz. Say Zeitlin does get his way and the Mays are kicked out of the partnership. Zeitlin and Kantz would once again own that land out in Bells Bend, and they could move forward on their own trying to develop their dream of a second downtown. Except that the two most logical spots for bridges — at the bottom of the bend and where the proposed bridge was going to go on the east side of the bend — are on the land that was supposed to be given to TSU. That land is owned not by the Bells Landing Partnership but by HTPC 2 — in other words, by the Mays.

If the Mays had any impetus to actually go through with the gift to TSU, they don't now. They know that owning the land would thwart development plans for the man who's suing them. And Zeitlin's land is not good for much beyond its current status as pasture, if the only way to get to it is down Old Hickory Boulevard.

Maybe somebody needs a Fortress of Solitude.

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