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$________ Breach of commercial lease - Fraud in inducement - Constructive eviction of restaurant - Loss of start-up costs.

Volusia County

The plaintiff restaurant alleged that the defendant condominium association breached its commercial lease, committed fraud in the inducement of the agreement and constructively evicted the plaintiff from the premises. The defendant maintained that the plaintiff breached the lease by vacating the premises prior to expiration of the lease.

The plaintiff alleged it spent considerable costs in opening a restaurant in the defendant’s New Smyrna Beach condominium complex. The plaintiff signed a five-year lease with renewal options. In the second year of the lease, the defendant began a construction project to replace exterior balconies. The plaintiff alleged it could not continue operation in light of the ongoing construction project and was constructively evicted.

The plaintiff argued that the defendant was aware that engineering tests showed cracks in the balconies prior to the date the lease was signed and an engineering report had been ordered at the time the lease was signed. The plaintiff maintained that the defendant was obligated to inform the plaintiff that the results of the engineering study was due back at any time.

The defendant maintained that it was not aware of the necessity for the construction project at the time it signed the lease with the plaintiff and had no obligation to inform the plaintiff regarding the renovation.

The defendant’s restaurant/construction expert opined that it was possible for the plaintiff to continue to operate its restaurant during the construction project at issue. The defendant filed a counterclaim for rent allegedly due and owing by the plaintiff. The defendant also claimed the plaintiff’s restaurant was losing money and would have gone out of business, regardless.

The jury found that the plaintiff was fraudulently induced to enter the lease agreement. It found for the defendant on the breach of contract/constructive eviction claim. The jury rejected the defendant’s counterclaim. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages. The case is currently on appeal.

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