Fishman Team Prevails in Federal Court Jury Trial on Behalf of Sonder USA
March 11, 2022
On March 10, 2022, a jury ruled in favor of Fishman Haygood client Sonder USA, holding 635 N. Scott, L.L.C. liable for damages related to the failure to maintain rental units. 635 N. Scott is controlled by Joshua Bruno, a landlord in the New Orleans area. The Fishman team, led by Kerry Miller and Rebekka Veith, with assistance from Danielle Teutonico and Monica Bergeron, prevailed in the four-day trial, which was held in the Eastern District Court of Louisiana with Chief Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown presiding. Click here to read Nola.com’s coverage of the case.
Sonder, a leasing company specializing in renting out entire buildings, entered into an agreement for 25 Mid-City apartments with Mr. Bruno’s company in late 2017. As is standard in many lease provisions, repair and maintenance obligations were to be the responsibility of the lessor, in this case 635 N. Scott.
As early as February 2018, Sonder began reporting tenant complaints of water intrusion in several of the units to Mr. Bruno and his team. Then came reports of mold, roaches, appliance breakages, and a chemical spill in which one guest slipped and fell. By June of that year, Mr. Bruno not only began blaming Sonder—and the company’s tenants—for the issues but also minimized the extent of these problems.
“A picture says a thousand words,” says Miller. “The evidence was overwhelming that Mr. Bruno never intended to take responsibility for the property’s upkeep.”
Because many of the units became uninhabitable, Sonder’s lawsuit sought the termination of its leases and recovery of lost profits. The jury found that 635 N. Scott breached leases on all 25 units and owes Sonder more than $223,000.
“Through not only photos but also his own words, our team was able to show the jury that Mr. Bruno was at fault, not our client,” Veith says. “I am proud of the verdict we received.”
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