Insurance-focused D’Amato & Lynch, a Manhattan firm whose head count has shrunk over the last two years, has been sued by its former landlord for more than $1.7 million after the firm moved to smaller office space this year.
WFP Tower B Co. LP, the landlord of downtown office space formerly occupied by D’Amato & Lynch, sued the firm in Manhattan Supreme Court on Thursday, claiming it was owed nearly $1 million in rent that was due before the lease was terminated last year and another $757,000 incurred before the firm actually moved out.
The firm’s downtown office was on the 30th floor at 225 Liberty Street, also known as Two World Financial Center, part of the Brookfield Place complex. While the firm’s lease ran until December 2021, the firm gave notice last year to terminate the lease and left the downtown office at the end of February.
In an interview, Thomas Breen, a partner at the firm, told the Law Journal that the ex-landlord’s real estate lawyers at Greenberg Traurig are known for being “aggressive” and said the level of damages sought may have been meant to carry “shock value.”
“I think it’s fair to say that that number is inflated,” Breen said of the $1.7 million figure. He added that he believed the dispute could be settled. “We’ll work something out with them, obviously. If we owe them money, we owe them money,” he said.
Breen said the firm moved to another office this year, at 59 Maiden Lane, because its former space at 222 Liberty St. became exceedingly high-end and expensive over the years and partly because the firm’s head count has shrunk.
D’Amato & Lynch lists 16 lawyers on its website today; two years ago, that number stood at 46, an archived copy of the website shows. The firm says it offers a wide array of legal services to insurers, including litigation, but also counsels clients on commercial law topics, including corporate issues, transactions and professional malpractice defense.
Several lawyers have departed the firm in groups over the past year or so. In April 2018, three partners left for Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck, and at least four other lawyers have recently joined London Fischer, a firm with offices also at 59 Maiden Lane.
Breen said that the firm continues to represent leading New York insurance companies and said that his practice remains busy, although he said he could not speak for other lawyers at the firm.
Luke Lynch Jr., listed at the firm’s managing partner, referred questions to Breen, saying he has been on leave for the past three months to care for a family member.
Daniel Ansell, a Greenberg shareholder representing the landlord, declined to comment.