After three and a half years of litigation and a two day trial, attorney Marshall T. Kizner, member of the Commercial, Retail and Industrial Real Estate Group, obtained an $816,627 verdict on behalf of a commercial landlord who brought suit against a personal guarantor.
Mr. Kizner represented Florham Villiage, LLC (Landlord), who brought suit against Michael Moylen, a former owner of Planet Gym, LLC (Tenant). Tenant signed a lease and both Moylen and his business partner, Paul Danna, signed personal guarantees whereby they agreed to be responsible for the corporate obligations of Planet Gym, LLC, including the obligation to pay rent and other fees due under the lease. The initial lease was for a period of 10 years – 1999 to 2009. The lease was then extended from 2009 to 2014 pursuant to a written amendment; however Tenant was evicted in February 2011 for failure to pay rent.
The wrinkle in this case was that Michael Moylen sold his ownership interest to Paul Danna in 2007 – two years before the original lease was extended in 2009. Moylen did not sign the amendment to the lease because he was no longer affiliated with Planet Gym, LLC. However, the guarantee he signed back in 1999 specified that it applied to any amendments modifications, renewals or extensions to the lease.
Accordingly, the judge ruled that it did not matter that Moylen did not sign the lease amendment because Tenant properly executed the amendment and Moylen’s obligations did not terminate due to the fact that he left the business. Mr. Kizner said, “An important thing to take away from this case is that the Court will refrain from writing a better or different contract than the parties agreed to.”