Saks Fifth Avenue files lawsuit against Bal Harbour Shops
Saks Fifth Avenue, a subsidiary of Hudson’s Bay Co., is taking legal action against Miami luxury mall, Bal Harbour Shops.
On September 2, Saks filed a lawsuit against both Bal Harbour Shops and Matthew Whitman Lazenby, president and chief executive officer of Whitman Family Development, LLC, the company that owns Bal Harbour.
The suit, filed in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, claims that Lazenby made statements that "breached the parties’ contract and Bal Harbour’s fiduciary duty," according to Saks.
In the suit, Saks claims Lazenby disclosed confidential information provided by the department store retailer to Bal Harbour in accordance with its lease agreement, in an effort to increase pressure on Saks to resolve a dispute related to lease payments during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The suit further claimed that "Lazenby caused damage to Saks Fifth Avenue’s business and reputation by making public defamatory statements to the media that omitted facts relating to the dispute."
“We are disappointed that Mr. Lazenby chose to breach our long-standing agreement and disparage Saks Fifth Avenue, an iconic luxury retailer that has been vital to Bal Harbour’s success for 45 years," said Ian Putnam, president and chief executive officer of HBC Properties and Investments, HBC L.P.’s real estate operating company.
"Over the past few months, we have been working with our landlord partners across North America to amicably and logically share the burden of losses stemming from the ongoing global pandemic. Unlike others, this landlord has resorted to providing denigrating statements and confidential information to the media for the sole purpose of coercing Saks into settling a disagreement."
The Saks suit comes after Bal Harbour Shops filed a suit to evict Saks in August. In the suit, Bal Harbour claimed that Saks, which has been a tenant since 1974, owed close to $1.9 million in rent and late fees.
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