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Roche owes Marsh Supermarkets $18M for breaking sublease

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld judgment Monday in favor of Marsh Supermarkets LLC on its complaint alleging that Roche breached a contract to sublease space in the Fishers building that houses Marsh’s headquarters.

Marsh is a subsidiary of MSI Crosspoint Indianapolis Grocery LLC, which owns the building and land that Marsh leases for its headquarters. The property is mortgaged with Bank of America, and the lease allows for Marsh to sublease the building.

Roche Diagnostics Corp. executed a sublease with Marsh to rent space in the building in March 2008. The lease would begin April 1 and expire Nov. 21, 2026, with rent payments to begin Jan. 1, 2009.

The agreement contained a subtenant recognition agreement and a subordination, non-disturbance and attornment agreement. The parties were required to cooperate in obtaining these two documents. The original sublease said both must be delivered to Roche by April 25, 2008; if not, Roche could terminate the lease on or before May 15.

This case hinges on the SNDA. Roche originally rejected Marsh’s proposed draft of the SNDA, in which Bank of America had removed Roche’s 12-month liability limit. Two extension letters were executed, pushing back the deadline that the SNDA had to be obtained to May 30. Roche wanted the liability limit in the SNDA. On May 29, Roche decided it would not sublease the building and sent a letter overnight to Marsh. When Marsh received the letter, it contacted the bank and got the SNDA with the 12-month liability limit. The SNDA was hand delivered to Roche at 4:57 p.m. on May 30.

After Roche declined to participate in the lease, Marsh sued. Both parties moved for summary judgment, and the trial court denied both motions. At a bench trial, Hamilton Superior Judge William J. Hughes ruled in favor of Marsh, finding Roche’s failure to pay rent under the sublease was more than $47 million. Hughes set off that amount based on a new sublease Marsh obtained with First Advantage Background Services Corp. and found Roche owed $18,188,933.

In Roche Diagnostics Operations, Inc. v. Marsh Supermarkets, LLC, 29A02-1201-PL-4, Judges Patricia Riley and L. Mark Bailey affirmed in favor of Marsh. Roche challenged the denial of its motion for summary judgment, but the majority held that the extensions entered into contain the parties’ clear intent for Roche to have its termination option effective only upon a failure to deliver a compliant SNDA by May 30, 2008. The language of the extensions modified Roche’s unilateral option to terminate the sublease under the original agreement.

Regarding the judgment from the bench trial, the judges noted that Roche’s challenge is essentially the same as its argument on the denial of its motion for summary judgment. The trial court correctly interpreted that the original agreement was modified by the extensions, Riley wrote. They also affirmed that Roche breached its duty to cooperate by not accepting the May 30 SNDA.

Also, based on the language of the original agreement, Hughes didn’t err in determining Roche is on the hook for the $18 million calculated based on the entire length of the sublease for breaking it.

Judge Terry Crone dissented, believing the extension letters didn’t nullify Roche’s bargained-for right to terminate the sublease after April 25. He wrote that Roche terminated the sublease before Marsh delivered the SNDA, therefore, Roche wasn’t in default and its damages should be limited to up to Dec. 31, 2013, based on the sublease.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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