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Fera v. Village Plaza, Inc.

Michigan Supreme Court
242 N.W.2d 372 (1976)


Facts

Mr. Fera (plaintiff) entered into a ten-year lease with Fairborn-Village Plaza (Fairborn) (defendant) for commercial space in the shopping center Fairborn was in the process of building. The lease called for payment of a minimum monthly rent plus five percent of annual receipts, except for liquor sales receipts which were excluded when Fera gave up some space for rental to another tenant. The premises were not ready for occupancy when agreed due to work stoppages and other delays, and in the meantime, the bank providing financing for the project took over management. When the premises were eventually ready for occupancy, the lease had been lost and the space rented to another tenant. Since no other space was a suitable substitute, Fera sued for lost anticipated profits. After days of testimony by fact and expert witnesses on the amount of anticipated profits, including testimony that the license to sell liquor would have been denied, the jury returned a $200,000 verdict for Fera. The Court of Appeals reversed holding that the trial court erred by permitting damages for lost anticipated profit because a new business was not entitled to such damages and because the proof presented at trial of anticipated profit was too speculative. The order of the Court of Appeals was appealed to the Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

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Concurrence/Dissent (Coleman, J.)

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