Bank of America Building Landlord Little Rock Law Firm Resolves Rent Dispute

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A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit over $400,000 in back rent that Little Rock law firm Wright Lindsey Jennings refused to pay.

The company announced on Monday that it had reached a “favorable solution” to the lawsuit that the California owner of the downtown skyscraper Bank of America Plaza filed against the company in August.

“The property owner’s assertion that WLJ breached the rental agreement by not paying rent had no basis in fact or law, and the resolution of this lawsuit is a clear indication of that,” said said Steve Lancaster, managing partner of WLJ, in a statement. accompanying the advertisement. “We look forward to working with a future owner to help return the building to its former stability and stature in downtown Little Rock.”

The owner’s attorney, 200 Capitol West LLC, which is also the building’s address, did not view the resolution the same way Lancaster did.

“No, 200 West Capitol disagrees with Mr. Lancaster’s assertion that our assertion ‘had no basis in fact or law,'” said John Buzbee, managing member of the firm of attorneys Little Rock Nixon, Light & Buzbee, in an email Monday afternoon. “Quite the contrary. WLJ’s failure to pay rent, which formed the basis of my client’s claim, rendered him unable to pay his debts, including the mortgage.

“Once 200 West Capitol was rendered insolvent – ​​again, due to WLJ’s failure to pay the appropriate amount of rent – ​​it became unable to pursue this costly litigation.”

The disputed legal claims were dismissed by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Herb Wright last week. The dismissal was based on a joint petition filed by the two parties on January 31, noting that they “have reached a compromise and resolved their differences”.

There was, however, a noticeable difference in the requests.

200 West Capitol asked Wright to dismiss its claims “with prejudice,” meaning it is definitely dismissed. Wright’s Lindsey Jennings, on the other hand, asked the judge to dismiss her claims “without prejudice,” allowing those claims to be challenged.

The differences in how the competing claims were resolved were the “basis of my statement” that the litigation was resolved in favor of the law firm, Lancaster said in a separate interview Monday afternoon.

The 60-lawyer firm that Lancaster runs is the largest tenant in the 24-story building he has called home for 50 years. He pays $65,000 a month for six floors, an area that is expected to grow once the company’s merger with Dover Dixon Horne is complete.

The dispute stems from a lease amendment negotiated in February 2020 in which the law firm said it agreed to extend the term of its lease based on the landlord’s agreement to carry out “certain repairs”. If the repairs were not made, the law firm was allowed to reduce part of its rent.

“The required repairs have not been completed and WLJ has properly exercised its contractual right to reduce the rent,” the company said in its Monday announcement.

200 Capitol West LLC, in its nonpayment lawsuit filed last August, asked Wright to order the law firm to vacate the building. For its part, the law firm filed a counterclaim, insisting that it had paid all the rent owed under the terms of the agreement and was therefore not in breach of the lease and should be allowed to stay in the building.

Buzbee is also representing 200 West Capitol in a foreclosure lawsuit First Security filed in October against the owner over the terms of an $8.4 million loan on which it claims the owner defaulted.

The loan was made in November 2020. The owner has not made a payment on this loan since June. His last payment on the line of credit came in August, according to the lawsuit.

The bank, citing litigation involving Wright Lindsey Jennings, had originally requested the appointment of a receiver. He dropped that request in November.

The owner purchased the building in 2006 for $10.2 million, according to the Pulaski County Assessor’s Office. The building contains 290,681 square feet. It has a separate parking garage covering 148,410 square feet.

It has been listed for sale on a popular commercial real estate database. It is no longer listed there, but Lancaster said Monday it had heard it was still being marketed.

The case is 60CV-21-4924.

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