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Recently, on November 29, 2018, after sitting through a 4 day jury trial in Maricopa County Superior Court, an eight-person jury panel rendered its verdict in favor of Attorney Benjamin Gottlieb’s client, a medical doctor.  The case involved Gottlieb’s client, a medical doctor, who owned an urgent care center and who terminated his lease several years prior to its expiration date and requested his security deposit back due to an unremedied structural defect in the subject building.  Several months after terminating the lease, the landlord sued Gottlieb’s client, seeking (a) $56,000 in unpaid rent; (b) $20,000 for having to make allegedly unnecessary repairs to the building; and (c) over $200,000 in alleged damages due to being forced to sell the building at a loss without its major tenant.  The jury awarded the landlord $0 and ruled in favor of the tenant doctor, awarding him his security deposit back.

A major part of the landlord’s case involved the Department of Health, who inspected the subject urgent care center prior to when the tenant doctor terminated the lease and, heading into trial, appeared to support the landlord’s position that there was no defect with the building that was interfering with the operation of the urgent care center.  At trial, during cross-examination of the Department of Health inspector who inspected the urgent care center, Gottlieb successfully extracted numerous fatal admissions from the health inspector, substantiating the health and safety hazards that the urgent care center had to endure while the building’s defect remained unremedied.  In addition, on cross-examination of the landlord’s representative, Gottlieb identified and later pointed out to the jury a number of inconsistent statements which substantially undermined the credibility of the landlord.

The cross-examination of the health inspector and the landlord’s representative had, in effect, eviscerated the landlord’s claims, and the jury ultimately awarded the landlord $0 in damages, and ruled in favor of Gottlieb’s client, awarding the tenant doctor his security deposit back.  Because the matter arose under contract, which had a mandatory attorneys’ fee shifting clause, additional briefing on attorneys’ fees is currently pending before the judge.

 

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