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AMC v. Intercontinental

October 12, 2010

AMC
v.
INTERCONTINENTAL



Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Blanche M. Manning than Assigned Judge

TITLE DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

For the reasons stated below, AMC's motion to alter or amend the judgment [198-1] is denied. O[ For further details see text below.] 00:00

STATEMENT

The court assumes familiarity with the facts and procedural history of this case, including the order entered by this court on August 10, 2010. In brief, AMC as the tenant filed a declaratory judgment action asking the court to declare that pursuant to its Lease, it is not liable to pay for heated and chilled water it uses for its HVAC system. Intercontinental as the landlord counterclaimed for breach of contract, alleging that AMC had breached its obligations under the Lease by not paying the heated and chilled water charges. After a bench trial and post-trial briefing by the parties, the court entered judgment on August 10, 2010, in favor of Intercontinental. AMC has filed a motion to alter or amend certain parts of the judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e). For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied.

Rule 59(e) motions serve a narrow purpose and must clearly establish either: (1) a manifest error of law or fact or (2) present newly discovered evidence. Abcarian v. McDonald, --- F.3d ----, 2010 WL 3189153, at *10 (7th Cir. 2010); Moro v. Shell Oil Co., 91 F.3d 872, 876 (7th Cir. 1996). "The rule essentially enables a district court to correct its own errors, sparing the parties and the appellate courts the burden of unnecessary appellate proceedings." Russell v. Delco Remy Div. of General Motors Corp., 51 F.3d 746, 749 (7th Cir.1995) (citation omitted). Here, AMC argues that the court committed legal error when it (a) awarded attorneys' fees to Intercontinental and (b) concluded that depreciation and administrative fees are part of the heated and chilled water charge.

Attorneys' Fees

In its order of August 10, 2010, the court entered judgment in favor of Intercontinental by denying AMC's claim for declaratory judgment and finding in Intercontinental's favor on its breach of contract counterclaim. The court also awarded attorneys' fees to Intercontinental pursuant to Section 37(B) of the Lease, which states:

In case suit shall be brought because of the breach of any agreement or obligation contained in this Lease or the Restriction Agreement on the part of Tenant or Landlord to be kept or performed, and a breach shall be established, the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover all expenses incurred in connection with such suit, including reasonable attorneys' fees.

Intercontinental notes that it sought attorneys' fees under Section 37(B) in its counterclaim, its motion for summary judgment, several versions of the pretrial order, its trial brief and its post-trial brief. In addition, in its Trial Memorandum, AMC stated:

AMC is entitled to an award of the attorneys' fees it incurred in this litigation. Under Section 37(B) of the Lease, AMC is entitled to recover its attorneys' fees and expenses incurred in connection with this lawsuit. By demonstrating that Intercontinental was not entitled to bill a separate charged [sic] for heated and chilled water, AMC has established Intercontinental's breach of the Lease. In addition, by prevailing on Intercontinental's Counterclaim, AMC is the "prevailing party" in a breach of contract action, entitling it to an award of expenses, including reasonable attorneys' fees.

Dkt. #165, p. 14.

AMC now contends that the court erred in awarding attorneys' fees to Intercontinental because of Section 34(B), which provides:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in paragraph (A) of this Article, with respect to any alleged default other than a default in the payment of Annual Fixed Rent (or any installment of the Restriction Payment), if within 45 days after Landlord's notice of such default, Tenant (i) notifies Landlord that Tenant disputes such alleged default, and (ii) files an action in a court of competent jurisdiction contesting such alleged default, then Tenant shall not be deemed to be in default under this Lease with respect to such alleged default, provided that if the final judgment in such action is adverse to Tenant, in whole or in part, then Tenant shall forthwith commence to ...


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