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John Gekas wins jury trial against Baird & Warner in breach of contract, construction dispute

Arnstein & Lehr Chicago partner John Gekas won a jury trial in the Circuit Court of McHenry County against Chicago-area real estate power Baird & Warner in a breach of contract and construction dispute arising out of a series of commercial leases. In 2009, Baird & Warner breached its leases with the firm’s client, Crystal Lake Limited Partnership, which develops, owns, and manages retail shopping centers in the Chicago area. Pursuant to the terms of the leases, Baird & Warner was required to restore the Premises to their original configuration, and to complete construction before the end of its lease term on May 31, 2009. When Baird & Warner failed to do so, our client declared Baird & Warner to be a holdover tenant. Baird & Warner then asserted a series of defenses ranging from the scope of restoration required under the leases, to the cost of construction. Despite its failure to restore the premises, Baird & Warner also denied that it retained “possession” under the leases because it vacated the premises, and thus denied that it was a holdover tenant. After a six-day trial and three hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict on both our main counts. Post-trial motions are expected to award additional damages in the form of interest and attorneys’ fees under the leases.