NYS Supreme Court Rules Amazon Breached Lease LOI, is Liable for Damages
For Immediate Release
Shea Communications, LLC
George Shea, Mark Faris (212) 627-5766
Rosenberg & Estis, P.C., a leading New York City real estate law firm, has secured a victory against Amazon in New York State Supreme Court on behalf of The Durst Organization. Supreme Court Justice Jennifer G. Schecter issued a summary judgment, ruling that Amazon is liable to Durst for damages for breaching a Letter of Intent, and setting a trial to determine damages.
The dispute focuses on a Letter of Intent signed by Amazon in July 2014 for a 10-floor, 310,000-square-foot lease at the Durst Organization’s office tower, 1133 Avenue of the Americas. The LOI, signed while the lease was being negotiated, prohibited Amazon from negotiating for space at other properties as Durst was performing extensive renovations to its space to accommodate Amazon’s need for expedited occupancy and was similarly agreeing not to continue its very advanced negotiations with another tenant.
The LOI required the organizations to negotiate in good faith and on an exclusive basis, and it expressly prohibited Amazon from negotiating with any other landlord for the same space requirements.
“Relying on the LOI, The Durst Organization began an extensive build-out of the space for Amazon and ended negotiations for another lease for the space, relying on Amazon’s compliance,” Riegel said. “Unbeknownst to Durst, virtually from the time it executed the LOI, Amazon was in active discussions to lease space at other properties, which it ultimately leased.”
Justice Schecter ruled that Amazon “unquestionably breached the LOI,” negotiating with Vornado and two other property owners for space in “blatant violation” of the LOI’s exclusivity clause while Durst was performing renovations at Amazon’s direction. Amazon eventually signed a lease with Vornado at 7 West 34th Street.
“Justice Schecter saw Amazon misled The Durst Organization, assuring the property owner that it intended to occupy space at its building for two months after it had formally decided to occupy space at 7 west 34th Street, with full knowledge that Durst had and was expending substantial sums to have the space ready for occupancy per Amazon’s requirements,” said Riegel. “We are confident that just as we prevailed at this stage, we will prevail in recouping all of the costs that were lost based on Amazon’s deception.”
Justice Schecter has scheduled a pre-trial conference for January 21, 2020, to determine Durst’s damages.