NORRISTOWN – A Montgomery County property management company alleges that a marketing communications firm has failed to vacate its premises after the termination of a lease agreement, and has subsequently sued for breach of contract.
M.S. Norristown Property, LLC of Collegeville filed suit in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas on June 5 versus MPS Communication Graphics, Inc. (doing business as “MPS Communications”) of Norristown, Michael P. Sommar of Lansdale, plus Tornetta Realty Corp. and Frank J. Tornetta Jr., both of Plymouth Meeting.
“On July 1, 2003, plaintiff and MPS entered into a lease agreement for a portion of the real property located at 2551 Industry Lane, Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 19403, originally consisting of approximately 2,350 square feet of space. The original lease was for a five-year term. Prior to entering into the original lease, plaintiff had placed a ‘for lease’ sign at the property. TRC then presented” according to the lawsuit.
Then, on Aug. 4, 2003, to ensure that TRC would receive a commission on the transaction, TRC and M.S. Norristown Property executed an agency agreement stating that TRC “has successfully negotiated the lease agreement dated July, 31, 2003," that Tornetta is “agent for this transaction” and that TRC has “earned and shall receive a commission from [plaintiff],” the suit says.
Therefore, TRC was the “transaction licensee” whereby it was not agent for either plaintiff or MPS. At no time did plaintiff hold TRC or Tornetta out as its agent, the suit says.
The parties then executed a lease extension on May 1, 2008, which increased the leased square footage to 8,750, extended the lease until April 30, 2010. Furthermore, regular extensions of the lease were mutually agreed-upon over the following decade, with the ninth lease extension ending on April 30, 2018 – and each time maintaining the remainder of the lease agreement’s terms, with TRC receiving a commission upon each extension.
The lawsuit alleges before each extension was executed, Tornetta would contact plaintiff to confirm that the lease was to be extended and terms would be discussed. Tornetta would then prepare the extension document and call M.S. Norristown Property, LLC to advise that it was ready to be signed. The plaintiff’s principal, Dieter Markert, would go to TRC’s office and sign the extension before it was signed by MPS.
The plaintiff claims no MPS representative was present during any of the document signings and that TRC would then present the extension to MPS, already signed by the plaintiff, and defendant Sommar would execute it on behalf of MPS.
“On Feb. 5, 2018, without plaintiff’s knowledge or authorization, Tornetta, acting within the scope of his employment with TRC, drafted and provided a tenth amendment and extension of lease to Sommar/MPS via e-mail. On March 28, 2018, Dieter spoke to Tornetta and informed him that plaintiff would not extend the lease for the property and that the lease would terminate by its terms on April 30, 2018. That same day, with highly suspicious timing, Sommar, on behalf of MPS, signed the tenth amendment and provided it to Tornetta,” the suit states.
The suit claims Tornetta contacted MPS/Sommar immediately after speaking to Dieter on March 28, 2018 and advised MPS/Sommar to immediately sign the tenth amendment in an attempt to permit MPS to keep possession of the property and to allegedly entitle TRC and Tornetta to a commission; and further claims Tornetta falsely advised or implied to MPS/Sommar that TRC/Tornetta had the authority to offer the tenth amendment to MPS – or alternatively, the defendants conspired to extend the lease for MPS to remain in the property and for TRC and Tornetta would receive a commission, by falsely asserting that TRC and Tornetta were acting on behalf of plaintiff.
“Later, on March 28, 2018, Tornetta proceeded to take the tenth amendment, already signed by MPS, over to Dieter’s home unannounced and asked Dieter to sign it on behalf of plaintiff. Dieter refused to sign the tenth amendment because he had previously notified Tornetta that plaintiff had no intention of extending the lease again. Pursuant to Paragraph 31 of the lease, ‘No subsequent alteration, amendment, change or addition to this lease shall be binding upon [plaintiff] or [MPS] unless reduced to writing and signed by them.’ The tenth amendment has never been signed by plaintiff and plaintiff has never agreed to enter into a tenth amendment,” the lawsuit alleges.
“As a proximate result of the aforementioned acts and omissions of defendants, plaintiff has been damaged by: (1) MPS’s unjust detention of the property after termination of the lease on April 30, 2018; (2) The costs and fees associated with confessing judgment against and evicting MPS; (3) The loss of a prospective tenant willing to pay higher rent with terms, including a triple net lease, more favorable to plaintiff than those previously had with MPS. It is believed and therefore averred that plaintiff’s damages exceed the sum of $50,000.”
For counts of breach of contract, trespass, inducing trespass, aiding and abetting trespass, tortious interference with prospective contractual relations, civil conspiracy and breach of fiduciary duty, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus punitive damages, interest and costs.
The plaintiff is represented by Benjamin R. Picker of McCausland Keen & Buckman, in Devon.
Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas case 2018-14711
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at email@example.com