A Miami-Dade judge has rejected landlord Bayside Marketplace LLC’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the shopping center by former tenants.
On March 27, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alexander Bokor denied Bayside’s motion to dismiss the suit by tenants Kelly’s Cajun Grill, Yeung’s Lotus Express and Cajun and Grill of America Inc. against their onetime landlord. The restaurants, which filed jointly as IRMG of Bayside Inc., filed the counterclaim in Bayside’s 2017 suit to evict the tenants. In addition to IRMG of Bayside, food vendors Tango Grill and Gusto Pizzeria have also responded to the waterfront mall’s eviction actions with lawsuits of their own.
Filings by the counter-plaintiffs contend Bayside’s owners had persuaded its tenants to break pre-existing lease agreements in 2013 to renovate the more than 3-decade-old commercial property. But according to the lawsuits, Bayside never made the improvements, causing economic losses for the eateries due to lack of customers.
In response to Bayside’s motion to dismiss, IRMG of Bayside argued the mall’s representatives “promised that the food court would be renovated and upgraded as part of a $6 million expenditure.”
“Landlord induced tenant and its affiliates to terminate their current lucrative leases, move to new locations within the food court, perform expensive upgraded renovations themselves that would correspond with landlord’s promised upgrades to the food court, and enter into new, more expensive leases that Landlord claimed it needed in order to recoup some of its $6 million expenditure,” the response said.
Read the counter-complaint against Bayside Marketplace:
But the counter-plaintiffs’ response stated Bayside’s management did not hold up its end of the bargain and “refused to perform the promised renovations.”
“Landlord allowed Bayside and the food court to deteriorate, including, among other things, non- or poorly functioning air conditioning, bathrooms and escalators; allowing unsanitary conditions, such as birds and vermin; allowing homeless persons to loiter, panhandle, and harass customers; and blocking visibility to tenant’s restaurants, effectively destroying tenant’s 30-year-old business,” the filing said.
The counter-complaints accuse Bayside and its management partners — General Growth Properties and Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. — of breach of lease, unjust enrichment, fraudulent inducement and negligent misrepresentation.
A representative in Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp.’s legal department declined to comment on the litigation. Bayside’s legal counsel, Pathman Lewis attorneys John Moore and Peter Meltzer, did not respond to requests for comment by deadline. The defendants’ motion to dismiss argued in part that IRMG’s charge of unjust enrichment should be dismissed with prejudice for failing to state a cause of action. The filing also cited the vendors’ delay in vacating the premises, despite the poor conditions alleged.
“IRMG was still on the premises and operating its business for 3 1/2 months after it alleged to the court that the conditions at the premises were so terrible that it had been constructively evicted,” the motion said.
Damian & Valori partner Melanie Damian is representing IRMG, Tango Grill and Gusto Pizzeria in their respective counterclaims against Bayside Market.
Damian said, “IRMG of Bayside, doing business as Kelly’s Cajun Grill, Yeung’s Lotus Express and Cajun Grill is looking forward to presenting its very strong case for damages based on the landlord’s broken promises to improve the food court and wrongful conduct allowing the Bayside Food Court to drastically deteriorate.”