Shawn Cavenee and Chris deBettencourt, representing a commercial property owner in a breach of contract action, prevailed on a Motion for Summary Judgment in the Circuit Court for Harford County. Gordon & Simmons represents the manager of a retail shopping center in an action against a former tenant and two individual guarantors. In the landlord-tenant action, the Harford County Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of the firm’s client against two of three defendants on claims for breach of contract and breach of guaranty. Shawn and Chris secured a judgment for $225,530.16 for its client. On summary judgment, and despite objection from the Defendants concerning the amount of damages, Shawn and Chris successfully enforced a treble damages provision in the underlying lease agreement, dramatically increasing the damage award to its client. Gordon & Simmons also prevailed on the summary judgment motion filed by a third Defendant in the case, and Chris and Shawn are set to try the remaining claims on February 11, 2015.
Gordon & Simmons was retained in October by a Montgomery County entrepreneur who was unable to obtain a permit to open a small business in the City of Frederick. In addition to retail sales, Victoria Frank, a small business owner, proposed to perform psychic readings at a planned shop within the city limits, but was not able to obtain a permit. A city ordinance made it a civil infraction to perform readings within the city for a fee. Gordon & Simmons reached out to the city government on behalf of its client and requested the City reassess the constitutionality of City Code Ordinance §15-19 – an archaic statute that prohibited receiving a fee for services relating to “clairvoyance, mind reading, palmistry, phrenology, divination or other [psychical] means or pretense of fortunetelling” within the Frederick City limits. The ordinance raised First Amendment issues and, in fact, based upon initial research by Shawn Cavenee and Chaz Remus, the firm quickly learned that a similar ban in Montgomery County had been ruled unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals in 2010 in its ruling in the case of Nefedro v. Montgomery County, Maryland, et al. On November 20, 2014, the Mayor and Board of Alderman of Frederick voted unanimously in favor of repealing the statute, thereby eliminating the restrictions on Gordon & Simmons’ client and all entrepreneurs who wish to conduct similar business in the City of Frederick.
The firm, led by Roger Simmons, is representing David Lerner, a resident of New York, in pursuing a Complaint filed recently in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Lerner is suing multiple defendants for their alleged refusal to pay him significant monies, and to convey an ownership stake to him for his efforts to acquire the rights to, and to raise capital for, a new regional restaurant venture. Lerner was instrumental in introducing two high-profile individuals in the restaurant industry, Hugh Connerty and Chris Sullivan to the Besito restaurant originally based in New York and Connecticut. Lerner played a significant role in efforts to acquire the rights to market and expand the Besito restaurant brand and to raise capital for the expansion efforts. Indeed, the effort to expand Besito is well underway.
Connerty is credited with originating the Longhorn Steakhouse concept, was instrumental in the growth of the Hooters restaurant chain, was the original franchisee of Outback Steakhouse, and is a former president and managing partner of Outback Steakhouse International. Sullivan is the founder, former chairman and CEO of Outback Steakhouse and was also involved in the Steak and Ale and Bennigan’s restaurant chains. Additional defendants in the case include Consul Partners, LLC and Besito, LLC.
Besides their client’s contract claims, Gordon & Simmons’ client has asserted claims against the defendants ranging from defamation and trade disparagement, to fraud, and tortious interference.
Shawn Cavenee and Chaz Remus of Gordon & Simmons recently represented two individuals in their efforts to continue to operate their family-owned dog boarding business at their personal residence in Union Bridge. In early 2014, the clients, who operate 4 Bare Paws Doggie Camp in Frederick County, received a notice from local zoning authorities stating that their business was not in compliance with the Frederick County Zoning Ordinance. The property was nearly three acres short of the minimum lot area requirement applicable to kennel operations, and fencing on the property was subject to a number of setback provisions.
Shawn and Chaz applied for a Special Exception and Variance on behalf of their clients to allow the dog boarding business, the sole source of income for the clients, to continue to operate in their agricultural zoned district despite these deficiencies. After two hearings with the Frederick County Board of Appeals, Shawn and Chaz were able to narrow the issues to just the minimum lot area requirement. Despite this hurdle, the Board of Appeals followed Shawn and Chaz’s arguments that the business was the most economically efficient use of the property and unanimously approved the clients’ applications for a Special Exception and Variance. Shawn and Chaz will be continuing to work with 4 Bare Paws Doggie Camp to gain the necessary site plan and health department approvals and to bring the operation into compliance with Frederick County regulations.
Video of the firm’s presentation to the Frederick County Board of Appeals can be found on the Frederick County government website: http://frederick.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=5&clip_id=4654
The firm is currently representing a Frederick couple in a lawsuit against Office Depot, the perennial Fortune 500 office supply and tech services corporation. The couple entrusted their laptop computer, which contained their professional and personal data and files, with an Office Depot store in Frederick, Maryland to allow the tech experts to obtain a price quote for some possible repair work on the laptop. Office Depot subsequently lost the laptop, along with the irreplaceable data it held. Gordon & Simmons filed an eleven-count Complaint in the Circuit Court for Frederick County, Maryland on the couple’s behalf that was centered around Office Depot’s failure to securely maintain possession of the laptop and includes claims, among others, for breach of contract, breach of express warranty, negligence, negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, negligent misrepresentation, promissory estoppel, conversion, and a violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.
Office Depot attempted to dismiss the couple’s entire Complaint by relying upon a forum selection clause, which Office Depot argued forced the Frederick couple to pursue their claims against Office Depot nearly one thousand miles away in the unrelated State of Florida. The Court agreed that the couple should be able to maintain their litigation here in Frederick County, Maryland where they reside. Discovery in this case is now underway.
Gordon & Simmons succeeded in extricating two well-known Washington-area real estate developers from a lawsuit arising out their efforts to purchase a multi-million dollar commercial property (worth between $36 million and $42 million, according to the parties) in Northern Virginia occupied by General Dynamics.
Galaxy/Halle Investments, LLC, a prospective buyer, became embroiled in a long-simmering feud between partners in the ownership of prime Oakton, Virginia commercial property, and Galaxy/Halle and its principals were dragged into litigation in the Circuit Court for Fairfax County involving disputes between the partners including members of the Lerner family (who own the Washington Nationals) and Merrick Marshall and Jerome Kaplan.
Roger Simmons and Shawn Cavenee came into the case as successor counsel approximately one month before the scheduled trial in the case, and working with local counsel Barney Goodman and George Hawkins of Peterson, Goodman & Hawkins, PLLC, succeeded not only in having the claims filed by the Lerner entities dropped, obtaining releases for the clients, but were also successful in recouping all of the attorneys’ fees and other associated costs incurred by Galaxy/Halle and its principals in the transaction plus additional monies to compensate the clients for the time and expenses incurred.
Gordon & Simmons has been successful in resolving a dispute involving an alleged multi-million-dollar contract for the sale of coal from the Glen Alum mines in Wharncliffe, West Virginia. The dispute was litigated in federal and state courts in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia beginning in 2011, but is being settled to end 2013. Gordon & Simmons attorneys, together with the leadership at West Virginia Coal Venture I, LLC and KWV Operations, LLC, (two businesses under the umbrella of The Halle Companies), have succeeded in striking a deal with Integrity Coal Sales, Inc. to end the litigation.
Jacob (“Jake”) I. Weddle has continued his run as one of a select few notable young lawyers in Maryland. Super Lawyers magazine for 2014 has recently been published, and Jake, as was the case for 2012 and 2013, has been identified as a Rising Star in the area of Civil Litigation-Defense.
Candidates for consideration to be singled out for recognition by Super Lawyers are nominated by their peers for consideration by Super Lawyers, subjected to independent third-party review by an attorney-led research team and then evaluated in categories organized by practice area by their fellow lawyers. According to Super Lawyers magazine, only 2.5% of attorneys are selected as Rising Stars.
This is the third such honor for Jake, and his partners and colleagues at Gordon & Simmons are proud of his achievement.
In August 2013, Gordon & Simmons began representing Intersection One, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, in connection with its acquisition of a stake in CRS Holding, LLC, the parent company of Creative Recycling Systems (“CRS”), an electronics recycling company with 20 subsidiaries located throughout the United States.
Electronics recycling is a growing industry, with companies vying for business refurbishing used electronics and recovering the component parts – plastics, steel, aluminum, precious metals and glass – and marketing these components to buyers for re-use.
Gordon & Simmons was involved in representing Intersection One in connection with disputes arising out of Intersection One’s acquisition of an equity stake in CRS in March 2012.
Roger C. Simmons welcomed two new members to Gordon & Simmons in 2013. Shawn P. Cavenee and Jacob I. Weddle both became members of the firm in 2013.
Shawn and Jake have both worked with Roger at Gordon & Simmons since graduating law school. Shawn joined the firm as an attorney in 1998, while Jake began working for the firm as a law clerk in 2006, and joined the firm as an attorney in 2007. Jake and Shawn are both natives of Frederick County, Maryland, and are happy to join Roger in serving the community where they were born and raised.
Roger has been practicing under the Gordon & Simmons banner since 1987. 2013 brought change to the firm, which has been serving clients from its base in Frederick for more than 25 years. Two young lawyers, Chris deBettencourt and Charles (“Chaz”) E. Remus II joined the firm as attorneys. Chris previously served as law clerk for the Judge Theresa Adams at the Circuit Court for Frederick County, Maryland. Chaz began work at Gordon & Simmons as a law clerk in 2011, and joined the firm full-time after his graduation from the University of Maryland School of Law. Chaz was sworn into the Maryland bar in December 2013.
Also in 2013, Susan G. Eisner re-joined Gordon & Simmons as Of Counsel. Susan worked with Gordon & Simmons as an attorney from 1992 until 1996. In 1998, Susan and her husband began an environmental consulting firm, where she served as general counsel, among other responsibilities. She renewed her professional relationship with Gordon & Simmons in 2013.