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Marsh wins $19.5M judgment against Roche

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A Hamilton Superior judge has awarded Marsh Supermarkets Inc. a total of $19.5 million in damages in a soured sublease deal with Swiss pharmaceutical- and medical-equipment-maker Roche.

The final judgment, entered Monday by Judge William Hughes following a bench trial in early October, includes nearly $1.4 million in attorney fees to be paid to Marsh’s Indianapolis-based law firm, Lewis Wagner LLP.

Marsh’s multimillion-dollar award stems from a breach of contract lawsuit it filed in July 2008 to enforce a deal with Roche Diagnostics Corp. to sublease the local supermarket chain’s entire 148,000-square-foot-headquarters in Fishers.

The deal, worth more than $47 million over 18 years, would have been one of the largest of its kind in central Indiana.

Roche, which has its North American headquarters and 2,800 employees spread over several buildings along Interstate 69 near East 96th Street, announced the lease of Marsh’s headquarters in March 2008 but backed out in late May of that year.

The abrupt reversal was a shock to Marsh, which had vacated most of the building, and Roche employees already were moving in and conducting meetings in the auditorium, the lawsuit claimed.

But Roche said it had a right to terminate the deal because Marsh failed to deliver certain documents, including a so-called subtenant non-disturbance agreement – standard paperwork that protects sublease tenants in many of the same ways primary tenants are protected.

Roche spokeswoman Betsy Cox said the company plans to appeal the decision.

“Roche’s corporate policy is to conduct business in a fair and ethical manner and the company believes it was acting in accordance with the terms of the contract when it terminated the sublease,” she said in an email.

Big changes were afoot at Roche the month it canceled the sublease deal. On May 5, 2008, the company said it would transfer 300 local jobs to Germany. Later that month, North American CEO Tiffany Olson resigned abruptly. Roche’s Asia-Pacific chief, Michael Tillmann, took over the local post about a week before the firm told Marsh it was pulling out of the deal.

Tillmann, who resigned as CEO in January 2010, wanted to terminate the agreement with Marsh to give the company more flexibility if he decided to move Roche out of Indianapolis, according to court documents.

In his decision, Hughes said Roche had no right to terminate the sublease and found that Marsh and Roche signed a “valid and enforceable” agreement on March 28, 2008.

A spokesman for Marsh said the company is pleased with the judge’s decision.

Marsh’s losses resulting from the termination through November 2026, the span of the original lease with Roche, totaled $47.1 million, the judge said.

He reduced damages to nearly $18.2 million because Marsh is using 20,000 square feet of space in the building, in addition to a sublease the grocer signed in June 2011 with First Advantage Background Services Corp. for 44,200 square feet.

Including attorney fees, the judgment totals more than $19.5 million.

Marsh moved its headquarters from Yorktown after it built the four-story building in the Crosspoint commercial park in 1991. The company has since moved several employees to offices at its warehouses on Franklin Road in Indianapolis and in Yorktown.

 

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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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