White Flint Mall Owners Quibble Over $110,000 Bill for Court Costs in Lord & Taylor Case

Attorneys allege the department store racked up “excessive costs” during litigation


White Flint Mall sign


Owners of the White Flint Mall property are challenging an order to pay more than $110,000 in legal costs related to their lengthy court battle with the Lord & Taylor department store.

Attorneys for Lerner Enterprises and The Tower Cos., the owners of the now-demolished mall, are contending that Lord & Taylor had racked up “excessive costs” in the case by asking for more than 200,000 pages of documents in discovery and deposing witnesses who never testified at trial. 

Federal judges last year upheld a 2015 jury verdict that awarded $31 million to Lord & Taylor to compensate the store for lost profits and future construction costs necessitated by the mall owners’ decision to demolish the shopping complex. The jury found that Lerner Enterprises and The Tower Cos. had breached a 1975 agreement that committed them to maintaining the Rockville Pike property as a “first-class” mall until at least 2042.

Lerner and The Tower Cos. decided not to appeal the ruling against them , signaling an end to the fight that started in 2013. The arguing has continued, though, as the two sides go back and forth over legal expenses.

Lord & Taylor’s attorneys are asking the court to deny relief to the former mall owners and, furthermore, to tack on an additional $2,974.12 in transcript costs. The department store blamed the mall owners for the large bill, arguing in a July 5 filing that the defendant “took every opportunity to drive up costs in its fruitless quest to avoid paying for the damages it caused Lord & Taylor.”

For their part, Lerner and The Tower Cos. charged Lord & Taylor with asking for 50,000  documents but only admitting 0.1 percent of them into evidence for the trial. About $45,000 of the court costs were for electronic file conversions involved in processing the massive trove of documents, according to the June 21 motion filed by the mall defendant. Another $40,000 of the bill was for transcribing depositions of expert witnesses who didn’t up testifying at trial, the White Flint Mall owners complained.

The debate over court costs was first reported by the Daily Record.

The Lord & Taylor lawsuit has stalled the mall owners’ redevelopment plans first approved by the county in 2012. The Montgomery County Planning Board approved a sketch plan for the property outlining the construction of several buildings that would include 1 million square feet of office space, 2,400 residential units, 1 million square feet of retail space and a 280,000-square-foot hotel.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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