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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Aug 19, 2015

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Samuel Thomas Bowman and Elizabeth McCostlin, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, VeroPele Nashville I, LLC.

Attorneys 2:

Richard McCallister Smith and Craig N. Mangum, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, William F. Hunt.

Michele Johnson, Nashville, Tennessee for the Amicus Curiae, Tennessee Disability Coalition.

Judge(s): CLEMENT

This appeal arises from competing claims by a landlord and tenant that the other breached their commercial lease agreement. Less than one year after entering into a five year lease, tenant vacated the premises declaring that landlord had materially breached Paragraphs 10 and 29 of the lease by, inter alia, refusing to make ADA accessibility improvements that tenant insists were required for tenant to obtain a use and occupancy permit. After tenant vacated the premises, landlord commenced this action alleging that tenant breached the lease by vacating the premises and refusing to pay rent (a) without justification, (b) based upon an unreasonable ultimatum, (c) before landlord could submit code compliant architectural plans to the Department of Codes and (d) before the Department of Codes could make a determination regarding the necessity of making ADA accessibility improvements. Tenant responded by asserting claims for breach of the lease, fraudulent misrepresentation, and violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Following a four-day bench trial, the court found that tenant breached the lease by vacating the premises without justification and failing to pay rent, and awarded landlord damages for breach in the amount of $90,342 and attorney’s fees. The trial court dismissed the remainder of tenant’s claims. Finding no error, we affirm and remand for the trial court to award landlord its reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees incurred on appeal.