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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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