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Lord & Taylor, LLC v. White Flint, L.P.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
780 F.3d 211 (2015)


Facts

In the 1970s, developer White Flint, L.P. (defendant) built a shopping mall and contracted with Lord & Taylor, LLC (plaintiff) and Bloomingdale’s to lease anchor-store spaces. The parties entered a detailed reciprocal easement agreement (REA) requiring White Flint to continue operating the mall as a first-class, high-fashion shopping center through 2042, with a renewal option until 2057. Mall business declined over time, and 75 percent of the tenants had left by 2013, leaving at least a third of the space vacant. One anchor store building was demolished after Bloomingdale’s did not renew its lease, and the rest of the mall closed in 2015, leaving only Lord & Taylor still open. Meanwhile, the county planned to redevelop the surrounding area into a 430-acre mixed-use urban center. As part of that project, White Flint came up with a plan to replace the mall with a 45-acre mixed-use “town center,” an increasingly popular concept across the country. The county approved the design, but Lord & Taylor sued to enjoin redevelopment and require White Flint to resume operating the mall. The trial court found that the redevelopment would breach the REA entitling Lord & Taylor to damages, but declined to enter injunctive relief, reasoning that the court overseeing mall operations for over forty years was not feasible. Lord & Taylor appealed, arguing that the court should at least enjoin the redevelopment, which would arguably force White Flint to resume operating the mall.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Harris, J.)

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