The Real Deal Miami

Sears to Forbes and Palm Beach Gardens: pay our $2.1M legal tab for mall sublease lawsuit

City resolution preventing anchor tenants from subleasing their space without approval was ruled unconstitutional
April 17, 2018 03:30PM

The Sears store at Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens

After winning a four-year legal battle over plans to sublease part of its store at the Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens, Sears, Roebuck & Co. wants its landlord and the city to pay $2.1 million in legal fees.

The litigation dates back to 2014, when Sears sued the mall owner, Forbes/Cohen Florida Properties LP, for blocking its plans to sublease the second floor of the department store to Dick’s Sporting Goods.

A year later, Sears added the city of Palm Beach Gardens to the lawsuit, citing that a city resolution preventing anchor tenants from subleasing their space without their landlord’s approval.

R. Max Lohman, a Jupiter lawyer who represents the city, told the Palm Beach Post that the amount is “ludicrous” and “laughable.” He said he billed the city about $79,000 in total costs.

Sears, meanwhile, said it was billed $1.5 million from Denton law firm in Chicago and about $600,900 in attorneys’ fees from the Richman Greer law firm in West Palm Beach, according to the newspaper. Another $27,000 was billed for additional costs, including depositions, travel fees and subpoenas.

Over the summer, Sears successfully appealed a Palm Beach Circuit Court judge’s ruling that favored Forbes and the city of Palm Beach Gardens. The state appellate court ruled that the city resolution is unconstitutional. [Palm Beach Post] – Amanda Rabines