Honig and Antar Win Million-Dollar Judgment in Commercial Lease Dispute

November 16, 2021 | Real Estate, Zoning & Land Use | Commercial Litigation

Jeremy Honig and Mark Antar won summary judgment against the guarantors of a commercial lease, securing an award of $1,017,033.22 plus attorneys’ fees, and successfully dismissing all the guarantors’ COVID-related defenses.

Rivkin represented the owner of a Manhattan office building in a years-long dispute involving two Supreme Court actions and a commercial nonpayment proceeding. The tenant, a group of law firms, had initially stopped paying rent, real estate taxes, and other charges, on the grounds that the owner had improperly rented other floors in the building to WeWork and allowed WeWork to perform renovations, which disrupted the tenant’s businesses. After COVID took hold, the tenant and guarantors also tried to claim that their payments were excused because the pandemic constituted a “casualty” under the lease and otherwise made it impossible to comply.

Rivkin moved for summary judgment in both the nonpayment proceeding and the Supreme Court action against the guarantors. While the nonpayment proceeding remains stayed due to New York’s eviction moratorium law, the Supreme Court granted Rivkin’s motion against the guarantors in full. The court rejected the guarantors’ COVID-related defenses and fully adopted Rivkin’s arguments that the guarantors were liable for all lease arrears. The court also set the matter down for a hearing next month to determine the amount of attorneys’ fees owed to the owner.

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