Coffee chain Fika’s fraud claim against Westfield can proceed: judge

Retailer alleges Westfield forced it into a lease at the WTC
By E.B. Solomont | September 21, 2017 08:35AM

From left: A Fika Shop On Pearl Street and the Westfield WTC mall

Westfield hasn’t been shy about going after retail tenants who never moved into its World Trade Center shopping center. But a judge now says one of them — the Swedish coffee shop Fika — can proceed with claims of fraud against the retail landlord.

On Wednesday, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge dismissed the mall operator’s motion to dismiss claims brought against it by Fika after the shop was sued for breach of contract by Westfield. Fika alleged it was induced into a lease at the World Trade Center shopping complex, even though Westfield knew the space wouldn’t be ready in time for the mall’s grand opening last August.

Justice Melissa Crane said Friday that Fika’s fraud claims can go forward, according to court filings.

“Westfield finally met its match in a small coffee chain,” the coffee chain’s lawyers, Darren Oved and Andrew Urgenson of Oved & Oved LLP, told The Real Deal.

Fika’s rent over a 10-year lease would have added up to nearly $5 million.

An attorney for Westfield did not immediately comment.

Westfield has sued at least five tenants last year for alleged breach of contract after they failed to move into their World Trade Center digs.

The shopping complex, located inside the soaring Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus, opened last summer. But the 365,000-square-foot mall was plagued by serial delays, and at the grand opening, only 60 percent of more than 100 retail shops was open for business.

Westfiled ultimately discontinued its case against one case, against fashion retailer True Religion. It settled with women’s clothing label Bebe, which at one point claimed $10 million in damages.