Rudolph Friedmann Wins Bankruptcy Case Involving Commercial Lease

Jon Friedmann recently represented Robert DeVoe as both trustee of R&M Realty Trust and individually in a case tried in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts (Lassman v. DeVoe, No. 18-01192, 2022). The case involved a commercial lease between Nouhad B. Bechara and Mona M. Bechara (“the debtors”) and R&M Realty Trust, which owned the property that the debtors leased and operated as a convenience store.

The debtors filed a joint petition for relief under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code seeking to liquidate their prepetition claims and those of their wholly-owned corporation against their commercial landlord DeVoe, both individually and as trustee of the R&M Realty Trust, for tortious interference with advantageous relations and violation of MGL ch. 93A (unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce).

During the trial, the debtors alleged that DeVoe, for an improper purpose, placed unreasonable conditions on their request to assign their lease to a prospective purchaser of the convenience store and thus tortiously interfered with and defeated a prospective sale of their business. Jon moved for a directed verdict because both the debtors and Devoe agreed that DeVoe never interfered with the assignment of the existing lease; in fact, the parties stipulated there was no evidence that the prospective purchaser ever sought an assignment of the existing lease. The debtors then introduced a new allegation – not that DeVoe interfered with the assignment of the existing lease, but that he interfered in the sale of the convenience store by setting unreasonable conditions for the prospective purchaser to enter into a new lease.

After a trial on the merits, the Court dismissed all of the debtors’ claims and found in favor of Jon’s client, DeVoe.


STAY CONNECTED Sign Up to Get Interesting News and Updates Delivered to Your Inbox