Jury Rules White Flint Mall Owners Must Pay $31 Million to Lord & Taylor
Award appears to be for lost profits
After three days of deliberating the jury in the White Flint Mall case has ruled the mall’s owners must pay Lord & Taylor $31 million for breaching a 1975 contract with the retailer, according to The Washington Post.
Washington Post reporter Jonathan O’Connell tweeted that the verdict appears to indicate the jury awarded the retailer money for lost profits, but not for a new store. The verdict came down around 11 a.m. Friday.
Attorney for Lerners: "We are very disappointed. It's going to badly hinder White Flint's efforts to redevelop the White Flint Mall."
— Jonathan O'Connell (@OConnellPostbiz) August 14, 2015
A clerk for Judge Roger W. Titus, who presided over the case confirmed the $31 million verdict. She said the jury did not explicitly say why they came to that number.
Attorneys for Lord & Taylor had requested $65 million in damages in the case—$31 million in lost profits and $35 million for a new store.
The verdict brings an end to the case that had been contested in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt since 2013.
Lord & Taylor sued the mall’s owners—Lerner Enterprises and The Tower Cos.—claiming that they breached a 1975 easement agreement by closing the mall and beginning demolition. The easement agreement stated the mall’s owners would maintain the mall as a “first-class” shopping destination until at least 2042.
During closing arguments in the case on Wednesday, Michelle Gambino, an attorney for Lord & Taylor, said that the mall’s owners had knowingly and repeatedly breached the contract.
Scott Morrisson, an attorney for the mall’s owners, said the mall’s management had attempted to save the mall, but external factors, such as internet shopping and regional competition, led to the mall’s demise and the need for redevelopment.
The Post reported that Lerner expects to appeal the verdict and that Lord & Taylor will continue to operate at the site. Lerner is pursuing an estimated $800 million mixed-use redevelopment of the mall site for which a sketch plan was approved in 2012. The sketch plan calls for about 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.