366 A.2d 137 (D.C. 1976), 8518, Feltman v. Sarbov

Docket Nº:8518.
Citation:366 A.2d 137
Party Name:Ralph H. FELTMAN, Appellant, v. Christos D. SARBOV, Appellee.
Case Date:November 22, 1976
Court:Court of Appeals of Columbia District
 
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Page 137

366 A.2d 137 (D.C. 1976)

Ralph H. FELTMAN, Appellant,

v.

Christos D. SARBOV, Appellee.

No. 8518.

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

November 22, 1976

Argued March 13, 1975.

Robert J. Stanford, Washington, D.C., for appellant.

Samuel M. Shapiro, Washington, D.C., for appellee.

Before KELLY and HARRIS, Associate Judges, and REILLY, Chief Judge, Retired.

REILLY, Chief Judge, Retired:

This is an appeal from a judgment after a jury trial awarding plaintiff, a parking lot operator, $30,000 in compensatory damages and $30,000 [1] in punitive damages. On

Page 138

appeal, defendant, lessor of one of these lots, urges us to reverse, or to grant a new trial.

The complaint was divided into three counts-two of fraud, and one for breach of contract. A motion for a directed verdict by defendant was granted at the close of plaintiff's case on the breach of contract allegations.

According to the record, Feltman, a local businessman, leased with an option to renew, on February 7, 1964, some unimproved land on 20th Street in downtown Washington to Sarbov, a well-known parking lot operator. The negotiations were carried out and the lease drawn up by a lawyer retained by the landowner. The instrument contained a statement to the effect that it was the lessor's intention to develop the property to its fullest income potential and provided that in the event he should receive an offer in writing for sale, purchase, or long-term lease for the property, the lessee would be given a copy and 60 days to exercise his right to match the terms of the offer (i.e., a right of first refusal). Insofar as pertinent, the lease provided:

It is further expressly agreed and stipulated, superseding any and all other provisions of this lease, that the lessors have and shall have the absolute right to terminate this lease and cause it to cease and end on or any day after October 6th, 1966, for the purpose of putting the property up for sale, for long-term lease (20 to 99 years), or for any other use, purpose, reason or desire without limitation or restriction of any kind upon the lessors, it being the present intention and desire of the lessors to immediately contact, interview, offer and deal with persons and companies-as they have been doing in the past to interest such and all in buying or acquiring the premises, or in negotiating and entering into contract(s) of long-term leasing looking toward the erection of an apartment, office or other building or structure thereon, to the end that the lessors may have and gain the maximum price, earnings, income or return of and from the use of said property, and this lease shall in no wise limit, (interfere with or in any manner prevent or limit the lessors in and from exploiting the property to the full of its value and income potential). The lessees understand and agree that their tenancy in all probability will not continue longer than Thirty Six (36) months beyond its date of beginning.

If during the renewal terms of this lease, should the lessors or their successors in interest receive in writing a bona fide offer for the sale, purchase or long-term lease of the premises (20 to 99 years), which the lessors desire to accept, then the privilege of buying or long-term leasing the demised premises on the same price, terms and conditions, with the same cash, financial security and...

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