. .

Invest in your success.
JVRA helps lawyers win cases by providing critical information you can use to establish precedent, determine demand and win arguments.

ARTICLE ID 29156

$________ AWARD - BREACH OF COMMERCIAL LEASE - TENANT BREACHES LEASE BY VACATING PREMISES - PLAINTIFF CONTENDS THAT TENANT MUST GIVE NOTICE TO VACATE PREMISES AND ALLOW REASONABLE TIME TO REPAIR DEFECT - DEFENDANT FAILS TO ESTABLISH EXISTENCE OF EMERGENCY SITUATION OR DANGEROUS CONDITION - ISSUE REGARDING REASONABLE ATTORNEYS FEES - BENCH TRIAL.

Bergen County, New Jersey

The plaintiffs in this case were the owners and landlord of certain premises consisting of ________ square feet, located in Hackensack, which were leased to the defendant for a period of ten years pursuant to a lease agreement. The plaintiffs contended that the defendant breached the lease agreement after it vacated the premises some 18 months into the lease. The defendant alleged that pursuant to the lease agreement, an emergency situation existed due to a wall that was in imminent danger of collapsing.

The defendant argued that this circumstance permitted it to vacate the premises and get out of the lease without advanced notice to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs sought damages consisting of the amount due for the balance of the lease term as well as punitive damages. The plaintiffs also sought recoupment of their attorney fees which equaled 1/3 of the award pursuant to a contingency fee agreement.

When the defendant vacated the premises in August ________, the plaintiffs attempted, without success, to re-let the premises.

After 36 months, the plaintiffs sold the premises to avoid the maintenance costs of keeping the premises. The plaintiffs brought this action alleging that the defendant breached the lease by vacating the premises 18 months into the ten-year lease without the required notice and without justification. Furthermore, the plaintiffs contended that even if the defendant did have cause for vacating the premises, it nevertheless breached the lease agreement by failing to give the requisite notice. p 7 3 Regarding the notice issue, the plaintiffs argued that the evidence indicated that the condition of the wall had been in existence for approximately 25 years and that the defendant was aware of the condition of the wall from the inception of the lease and had never complained about the condition.

The defendant maintained that a dangerous condition existed which prevented it from being able to use the premises. It alleged that the wall in question was in imminent danger of collapsing and alleged that this constituted a latent defect which prevented the defendant from utilizing the property. The defendant contended that as a result of the alleged emergency situation, it was entitled to vacate the premises pursuant to the lease agreement and that it need not give advance notice to the plaintiffs.

Through plaintiffs’ cross-examination of the experts, plaintiffs’ counsel attempted to elicit testimony that the alleged defect was not substantial, did not create an emergency situation, and did not prevent the use of the leasehold premises. On cross- examination of the defendant’s structural engineer, this expert conceded that the wall was not in such a dangerous condition. He also admitted that if he thought that the building was in a dangerous condition, he would not have entered the building to inspect it. Furthermore, the defendant’s structural engineer testified that only ________ of the total ________ square feet were affected. Significantly, the structural engineer also testified that it would only take six weeks to repair the problem.

At the end of the six day trial, Judge Mecca found in favor of the plaintiff. The Judge concluded that the defendant’s failure to give the plaintiffs a reasonable time to repair the alleged defect and its failure to notify the plaintiffs of its intent to vacate the premises constituted a default under the lease agreement. As to defendant’s latent defect claim, Judge Mecca disagreed on the basis of his finding that the wall was "visibly bowed," that an adjoining floor appeared "cracked and depressed," and the fact that there had been no prior complaint. In addition, Judge Mecca concluded that regarding the plaintiffs’ duty to mitigate damages for breach of the lease agreement, the plaintiffs’ only duty was to attempt to re-let the premises as opposed to selling the premises as argued by the defendant.

Judge Mecca entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $________ consisting of $________ for damages, $________ for attorneys fees and $________ in costs. Judge Mecca denied the plaintiffs’ claim for punitive damages and contingency attorney fees. The defendant have filed an appeal of the judgment. The plaintiffs have also appealed the part of the judgment concerning the issues of attorneys fees and punitive damages.

To read the full article, please login to your account or purchase

5 ways to win with JVRA

JVRA gives you jurisdiction-specific, year-round insight into the strategies, arguments and tactics that win. Successful attorneys come to the table prepared and use JVRA to:

  1. Determine if a case is winnable and recovery amounts.
  2. Determine reasonable demand for a case early on.
  3. Support a settlement demand by establishing precedent.
  4. Research trial strategies, tactics and arguments.
  5. Defeat or support post-trial motions through past case histories.

Try JVRA for a day or a month, or sign up for our deluxe Litigation Support Plan and put the intelligence of JVRA to work for all of your clients. See our subscription plans.


Your cart is empty
Let Our expert Researchers Do The Searching For You! Pro Search Service