Dispute brewing between Philly law firm and Starbucks that supposedly flooded its basement

By Nicholas Malfitano | Nov 19, 2018


Starbucks Corporation  

PHILADELPHIA – In recent litigation, a Philadelphia law firm is saying the Starbucks coffee shop located in its building has not spilled the beans, but rather, a flood of water that damaged its basement storage room.

Nino V. Tinari & Associates of Philadelphia filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Oct. 18 versus M.S. Fox Real Estate Group, Inc. and ASI Management also of Philadelphia, and Starbucks Corporation of Seattle, Wash.

The plaintiff is a law office and corporation principally located at 1528 Walnut Street, Suite 1212 in Philadelphia, while it maintains a storage room separate from its office in the basement of the very same building. Above the basement, on the street level of the building, Starbucks owns and operates a coffee shop – while ASI Management and M.S. Fox Real Estate Group manage and own the entire building itself.

“On or about July 11, 2016, plaintiff discovered extensive damage and destruction of its property, specifically archived and stored hard copies of files and records, which were properly and legally stored in plaintiff’s storage room located in the basement of 1528 Walnut Street. The damage appeared to be caused by extensive, intense flooding. The water that flooded plaintiff’s storage room appeared to contain large amounts of coffee grounds,” the suit states.

“On or about July 11, 2016, and continuing thereafter, and at all times mentioned herein, defendant Starbucks Corporation operated a store that sells coffee on the street level of 1528 Walnut Street. As a result of the flooding of plaintiff’s storage room, plaintiff sustained extensive damages. Plaintiff spent $9,840 in labor to clean the flood damage. Plaintiff was quoted a price of over $120,000 to restore the documents damaged by the flooding.”

As a result, allegedly:

• Plaintiff lost access to and use of a multitude of records in storage, including archived client files, which plaintiff must be able to access at a client’s request;

• Plaintiff’s property has been harmed and diminished in value;

• Plaintiff has spent, and will have to continue to spend, great sums of money to clean, restore, and reorganize its property; and

• Plaintiff has spent, and will have to continue to spend, great amounts of time and labor to recover from the damage caused by defendants’ conduct.

Through preliminary objections filed Nov. 1 by ASI Management, that defendant alleged the plaintiff “failed to show with any specificity how the defendant acted recklessly” and “used such broad conclusions as the negligence and recklessness of the defendant” and how that “resulted in various losses to the plaintiff.”

“Plaintiff has only pled facts that rise to the level of mere negligence and which do not support an award of punitive damages…and failed to state in its complaint any factual grounds to support the conclusion that the defendant acted recklessly and failed to describe any conduct that may be considered same, and therefore, any reference to reckless conduct must be stricken from the plaintiff’s complaint,” the objections read, in part.

As a result, on Nov. 7, both plaintiff and defense counsel mutually stipulated that any and all references to words such as “reckless” and/or “recklessness” are deleted from the complaint.

For multiple counts of negligence, private nuisance and trespass, the plaintiff is seeking the reasonable and necessary costs of remediation and restoration of plaintiff’s damaged property, compensatory damages for the loss of value to plaintiff’s property, loss of use and enjoyment of their property, and such other reasonable damages incidental to the claims, plaintiff’s litigation costs and fees and any further relief that the Court may find appropriate, in addition to a trial by jury.

The plaintiff is represented by Nino V. Tinari of Nino V. Tinari & Associates, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Kevin J. McCloskey of Styliades Mezzanotte & Hasson, also in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180701226

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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