The practice of commercial real estate litigation concerns income-producing real estate properties and projects of a wide variety, including office buildings, retail centers, apartment buildings and condominium developments, hotels, and industrial and specialty properties. Litigation can arise in any aspect of these projects from acquisition and financing to development and construction to management and leasing. The disputes can be as varied as the parties and the projects themselves.
For developers, litigation can arise with land sellers over purchase and sale agreements; with municipalities over zoning and entitlements; and with contractors over construction bidding, cost overruns, and construction defects and delays. For lenders, litigation can arise with borrowers over loan commitments, loan defaults and associated debt, and collateral recovery; with junior and mezzanine lenders over subordination obligations; and with mechanic lienors over priority rights to the real property and loan proceeds. For property owners, disputes can arise with retail and commercial tenants over unpaid rent, repair and restoration obligations, and rights of first refusal.
Disputes regularly arise out of the often-complicated and interrelated contracts of the various parties with interests in the property, and tort claims of various kinds may be asserted, from broad common law claims, such as fraud and tortious interference, to more real estate-specific claims, such as trespass, encroachment, and nuisance. Equitable considerations are often present because of the unique nature of real property rights. Special insurance rights, such as title and builder’s risk policies, may be implicated.
Top-tier lawyers in the area should have a comprehensive understanding of the contractual relations, business goals, and equitable and tort concepts attendant to the entire project. Practitioners may find themselves in state, federal, or bankruptcy courts, or, particularly in construction disputes, in arbitration.
William J. Dorsey, Partner
Timothy J. Patenode, Partner