Law Firms

Crowell may pursue lawsuit for COVID-19 rent break, DC judge says

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“This was not an easy case,” said Washington, D.C., Superior Court Judge Donald Walker Tunnage. “If it were, we wouldn’t be here.” Image from Shutterstock.

Crowell & Moring may pursue its lawsuit seeking a $30 million rent refund because of government orders that interfered with its use of its property during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Washington, D.C., judge has ruled.

Superior Court Judge Donald Walker Tunnage said during a hearing Wednesday a factual dispute exists that can be resolved at a later stage of the litigation, Reuters reports.

“This was not an easy case,” Tunnage said. “If it were, we wouldn’t be here.”

Crowell’s March lawsuit alleges that government pandemic orders amount to the type of “force majeure event” entitling the law firm to a rent abatement under its lease. During the hearing, differences emerged over the interpretation of lease terms, such as “access” to the building and “essential” services, according to Reuters.

The firm is seeking a rent break for its Washington, D.C., office on Pennsylvania Avenue. It wants a refund of 98% of the amount it paid for a little more than a year, plus interest.

The defendant in the suit is the property owner, the TREA 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue Trust.

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