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Media Alerts - Lord & Taylor v. White Flint -- Fourth Circuit
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April 30, 2015
  Lord & Taylor v. White Flint -- Fourth Circuit
Headline: Death of the Suburban Shopping Mall: Largely Vacant White Flint Mall Can Be Demolished for Town Center Redevelopment in Violation of Agreement with Lord & Taylor

Area of Law:
Contract Law, Injunctive Relief

Issue Presented: Whether the district court erred when it denied Lord & Taylor's request for a permanent injunction that would prohibit White Flint from replacing the existing mall with a town center.

Brief Summary:
All across the country, more than two dozen shopping malls have closed and another 60 are on the brink of elimination. The "death of the suburban shopping mall" is attributed to increased consumer preference for online shopping and upscale town centers in place of traditional malls with anchor retailers, such as Macy's or Lord & Taylor. White Flint Mall was no exception.

For many years, Lord & Taylor operated an anchor retail store in the White Flint Shopping Center (the "Mall"). In October 2012, the Montgomery County Council approved plans to tear down the Mall and redevelop the site into a mixed-use, town-center-style development as part of a revitalization plan for the area. Lord & Taylor filed a complaint seeking a permanent injunction that would prohibit White Flint from replacing the Mall with the proposed town center, arguing that White Flint had violated the terms of its Reciprocal Easement Agreement ("REA"), which obligated White Flint to continually operate a "first class high fashion regional shopping center." The district court denied the preliminary injunction explaining that maintaining the Mall was no longer feasible, given the advanced stages of the project and the reality that the Mall is almost completely vacant and partially demolished. Lord & Taylor appealed, claiming the district court erred: (1) by applying federal law instead of Maryland law, which strongly favors injunctive relief for breaches of restrictive covenants and (2) because injunctive relief is entirely feasible.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. According to the court, the district court expressly clarified that it applied Maryland law and the Fourth Circuit concluded that under Maryland law, injunctive relief is not automatic. Rather, the law makes "perfectly clear that trial courts may take account of feasibility concerns." The court also determined that injunctive relief was not feasible because it would either require the court to supervise the repopulation and restoration of the largely vacant Mall potentially for as long as 40 years or the effect of the order would be to suspend the site in its current unusable state.

To read the full opinion, please click here.

Panel: Judges Harris, Wilkinson, and Agee

Argument Date:
01/28/2015

Date of Issued Opinion: 03/04/2015

Docket Number: No. 13-2548

Decided: Affirmed by published opinion

Case Alert Author:
Jamie Lee, Univ. of Maryland Carey School of Law

Counsel:
ARGUED: Michelle DeFinnis Gambino, GREENBERG TRAURIG LLP, McLean, Virginia, for Appellant. Stuart Scott Morrison, KATTEN MUCHIN ROSENMAN LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellee. ON BRIEF: Kevin B. Bedell, David G. Barger, GREENBERG TRAURIG LLP, McLean, Virginia, for Appellant

Author of Opinion:
Judge Harris

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Professor Renée Hutchins

    Posted By: Renee Hutchins @ 04/30/2015 10:15 AM     4th Circuit  

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