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Real Estate Representative Matters

Defended a Major Real Estate Developer

Defended a major Real Estate developer of a large Northeast Ohio mixed-use commercial development project, where an oil and gas well operation on the development site had obtained issuance of a TRO before the firm’s engagement drawing a halt to prevent the dismantling of the well, effectively shutting down development across a substantial portion of the site. Kaufman & Company successfully litigated the defense position in a hearing to oppose the well interest-holders’ position. Kaufman & Company first succeeded in persuading the Court to increase the bond to a very high amount in order to continue the temporary restraining order. Following the first day of the PI hearing, with the new high bond due to be filed, the Plaintiffs dropped their opposition, allowing the resumption of the development with only a minor delay to the project.

Obtained Favorable Settlement in Complex Litigation Involving Damage to Clients’ Property from Landslide that Occurred During Government Sewer Project on the Property

Kaufman & Company, as lead counsel for the Property Owners’ counterclaim and third party claims, obtained a favorable recovery in a settlement on behalf of two clients—a family-owned local business owning commercial property and a family-owned local outdoor advertising business—in a multi-party lawsuit that included complex and novel eminent domain issues. The litigation arose after a landslide occurred on the clients’ commercial property during a government project performed by the sewer district and its hired contractors, which caused significant damage to the land and a billboard owned by the outdoor advertising client. The Northeast Ohio Sewer District had entered the property without any valid contractual or other legal right to enter. Kaufman & Company prosecuted the property owners’ trespass and negligence claims against the sewer district’s contractors as well as a contractor that performed work previously on the property. In addition, Kaufman & Company prosecuted the property owners’ “inverse condemnation” claim against the sewer district, upon which the firm successfully compelled the sewer district to commence an eminent domain action to determine just compensation for “taking” the clients’ property. Kaufman & Company’s efforts resulted in denial of dispositive motions by the defendants on all these claims, and its clients also prevailed on numerous, hotly-contested evidence motions in limine. During jury selection, a favorable settlement was reached on both clients’ claims.

Key Reversal Obtained in Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals

In certain CAM (Common Area Maintenance) litigation pending more than seven years between Best Buy and DDR (and other related entities), Kaufman & Company was successful in reversing a grant of summary judgment with respect to the charging of certain insurance coverage costs under fifteen different leases with Best Buy. According to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the fact that Best Buy knew of the subject insurance program, asked for documents regarding insurance charges, but continued to pay the charges, were all facts supporting the question as to whether Best Buy “knew the ramifications of the [insurance] program and acquiesced to its use.” As a result of the win in the Court of Appeals, the case was remanded to the District Court for further proceedings on key affirmative defenses for the majority of the lease years at issue. Previously, the District Court had granted summary judgment in favor of Kaufman & Company’s clients on all of Best Buy’s other attempted claims of breach of fiduciary duty and fraud, and denied Best Buy the right to allege any punitive damages. After the remand, the parties reached an out of court settlement.

Won a Week-Long Injunction Trial Allowing the Most Significant Public Development Project In Cleveland in 30 Years to Proceed

In the most significant Cleveland public development project in 30 years, Steve Kaufman as co-trial counsel won a TRO permitting the $275 million financing to close and then won a week-long trial, obtaining a preliminary injunction against the architectural firm who tried to block the $275 million Flats East Bank redevelopment project in a dispute over the ownership of the project drawings. A state court judge found that the developer had the right to maintain ownership of and use the drawings, and that not recognizing this right would irreparably harm the developer, the project, and the Greater Cleveland area.

Won Defense Verdict in Largest Commercial Eminent Domain Trial in Ohio

In the largest commercial eminent domain trial in Ohio history, Steve Kaufman was lead trial counsel in a five-week trial won by the City of Cleveland against a neighboring city. The neighboring city had filed an eminent domain action to take Cleveland’s 150-acre IX Center needed for Cleveland’s plans to expand the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport for an international runway. After the City of Cleveland won, The Plain Dealer hailed it as a “victory for the entire Northeast Ohio region.”

Obtained Favorable Settlement After Five-Week Bench Trial in Eminent Domain Action

Steve Kaufman, serving as lead counsel, obtained significant settlement for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority in an eminent domain action to acquire 14 commercial properties for the $275 million Flats East Bank redevelopment project. After five weeks of trial, all the owners agreed to settle and transfer ownership for the project, allowing the development to proceed.

Obtained Highly Favorable Settlement in Commercial Developer/Joint Venture Litigation

Steve Kaufman secured a substantial settlement on behalf of a publicly-held REIT plaintiff in litigation against the sellers of a $330 million commercial shopping center development portfolio; at issue was the earn-out portion of a purchase agreement. The sellers settled after the plaintiff prevailed on hotly contested issues of venue and jurisdiction, and a significant portion of the sellers’ counterclaims were dismissed.

Kaufman & Company, LLC