Bender v. Design Store Corp., No. 13734.

Docket NºNo. 13734.
Citation404 A.2d 194
Case DateJuly 23, 1979
CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District
404 A.2d 194
Morton A. BENDER et al., Appellants,
v.
The DESIGN STORE CORPORATION, Appellee.
No. 13734.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Argued April 6, 1979.
Decided July 23, 1979.

Arthur R. Goldberg, Chevy Chase, Md., with whom Leonard C. Greenebaum, Chevy Chase, Md., was on the brief, for appellants.

Burton A. Schwalb, Washington, D. C., with whom Allen V. Farber, Washington, D. C., was on the brief, for appellee.

Before KELLY, KERN and GALLAGHER, Associate Judges.

KELLY, Associate Judge:


Appellants sought in the trial court to enforce appellee The Design Store's alleged promise to lease certain commercial space from them, a promise on which they claimed they relied to their detriment. Summary judgment was granted in favor of appellee. Appellants challenge the trial court's judgment as erroneous because (1) there are questions of fact as to the existence of an explicit promise to lease, (2) appellee's actions constituted an implied promise to lease, (3) appellants' part performance and reliance created an estoppel against appellee, and (4) there are questions of fact as to appellants' alleged damages. We affirm.

Appellants are general partners in Northwestern Development Company B (Northwestern). In late 1972, Northwestern began

Page 195

design and construction of an office building in the District of Columbia. In early 1973, Northwestern began negotiations with The Design Store regarding the latter's leasing space in the building. Agents for both parties continued active communication through early 1976, at which time The Design Store notified Northwestern that because of financial difficulties it would be unable to lease the space.

Key among the communications were two early letters. On May 5, 1973, Stephen Newman, president of The Design Store, notified Northwestern, through the leasing agent, that he was interested in leasing space in the building. In the letter he stated:

You realize this letter does not constitute an offer to lease, but should you be interested in pursuing this further I would be most willing to get together with you for serious negotiations to work this out in suitable detail.

On July 23, 1974, Newman again notified Northwestern of his interest. This time he included some proposed specifications for the lease, including 13 structural changes in the building. Once again, he stated:

You understand that this letter is for discussion purposes only and that any commitment on our part to enter into a lease shall occur only upon our execution of a formal lease agreement. You have my personal assurance, however, of our full and expedited co-operation in working towards finalizing such an agreement.

Negotiations then continued for over a year. A number of the terms of the proposed lease were negotiated, and on August 14, 1975, the parties met in an attempt to agree on a final lease. A lease dated August 28, 1975, resulted from that meeting. This lease was executed by The Design Store and delivered to Northwestern for signature. Northwestern refused to sign, however, citing several infirmities in the proposed lease. In October 1975, The Design Store withdrew the August lease offer. It thereafter made a new lease offer, which also was not accepted by Northwestern.

During the continuing negotiations, a major source of discussion was the physical configuration of the building. The Design Store had requested, and Northwestern had made, numerous changes in the building's structure, including adding walls, installing new stairways, and relocating the mezzanine. In all, Northwestern made some $167,049.55 worth of architectural changes over a period of almost 1½ years. During this time, agents of The Design Store, requested changes, reviewed architectural plans, and directed work at the site.

In February 1976, The Design Store informed Northwestern that it could no longer afford to lease the premises. Some three months later Northwestern entered into a lease with another tenant. The Design Store averred in its motion that the revenue expected from Northwestern's ten-year lease with the new tenant exceeded its expected revenue from any proposed lease with The Design Store. Northwestern alleged that it could have received a greater rental from its new tenant had it not made the changes requested by The Design Store.

The Benders (Northwestern) brought this suit for damages incurred in reliance on The Design Store's promise to lease the premises, alleging that there was...

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47 practice notes
  • Bond v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, Civil Action No. 10–01617 (RCL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • December 6, 2011
    ...of promissory estoppel may be invoked only when ‘injustice otherwise [would] not [be] avoidable.’ ”) (citing Bender v. Design Store Corp., 404 A.2d 194, 196 (D.C.1979)). Promissory estoppel is “an inherently equitable doctrine.” Moss. v. Stockard, 580 A.2d 1011, 1035 (D.C.1990). “Though the......
  • In re U.S Office Products Co.Securities Lit., File No. No. 99-MS-137 (RMU).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 4, 2003
    ...it must still be a promise with definite terms on which the promisor would expect the promisee to rely. Bender v. Design Store Corp., 404 A.2d 194, 196 (D.C.1979) (citing Granfield, 530 F.2d at As discussed supra, the court has determined that the February 11 Agreement is not an enforceable......
  • Intelect Corp. v. Cellco P'ship GP, Civil Action No.: 15-0902 (RC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • February 5, 2016
    ...261, 272 (D.D.C.2011) (citing Simard v. Resolution Trust Corp. , 639 A.2d 540, 552 (D.C.1994) ; see also Bender v. Design Store Corp. , 404 A.2d 194, 196 (D.C.1979). A promise “must be definite, as reliance on an indefinite promise is not reasonable,” and it must have “definite terms on whi......
  • In re U.S Office Products Co. Securities Litigat., No. 1999-MS-137(RMU).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 4, 2003
    ...it must still be a promise with definite terms on which the promisor would expect the promisee to rely. Bender v. Design Store Corp., 404 A.2d 194, 196 (D.C.1979) (citing Granfield, 530 F.2d at 1040); D'Ulisse-Cupo, 520 A.2d at As discussed supra, the court has determined that the February ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
47 cases
  • Bond v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, Civil Action No. 10–01617 (RCL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • December 6, 2011
    ...of promissory estoppel may be invoked only when ‘injustice otherwise [would] not [be] avoidable.’ ”) (citing Bender v. Design Store Corp., 404 A.2d 194, 196 (D.C.1979)). Promissory estoppel is “an inherently equitable doctrine.” Moss. v. Stockard, 580 A.2d 1011, 1035 (D.C.1990). “Though the......
  • In re U.S Office Products Co.Securities Lit., File No. No. 99-MS-137 (RMU).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 4, 2003
    ...it must still be a promise with definite terms on which the promisor would expect the promisee to rely. Bender v. Design Store Corp., 404 A.2d 194, 196 (D.C.1979) (citing Granfield, 530 F.2d at As discussed supra, the court has determined that the February 11 Agreement is not an enforceable......
  • Intelect Corp. v. Cellco P'ship GP, Civil Action No.: 15-0902 (RC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • February 5, 2016
    ...261, 272 (D.D.C.2011) (citing Simard v. Resolution Trust Corp. , 639 A.2d 540, 552 (D.C.1994) ; see also Bender v. Design Store Corp. , 404 A.2d 194, 196 (D.C.1979). A promise “must be definite, as reliance on an indefinite promise is not reasonable,” and it must have “definite terms on whi......
  • In re U.S Office Products Co. Securities Litigat., No. 1999-MS-137(RMU).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 4, 2003
    ...it must still be a promise with definite terms on which the promisor would expect the promisee to rely. Bender v. Design Store Corp., 404 A.2d 194, 196 (D.C.1979) (citing Granfield, 530 F.2d at 1040); D'Ulisse-Cupo, 520 A.2d at As discussed supra, the court has determined that the February ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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