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VOL. 133 | NO. 75 | Friday, April 13, 2018

Raymond James Sues Landlord Over Elevators

By Bill Dries

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Raymond James & Associates Inc., the name tenant of the Raymond James building at 50 North Front St., is suing its landlord at the building over elevator problems in a lawsuit first filed in Chancery Court in February that has since been transferred to Memphis federal court.

Raymond James has taken its landlord at the Downtown skyscraper bearing its name to court over problems with the building’s elevators. (Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

The wealth management company is seeking damages “including the cost of its future relocation since a move flows directly from Landlord’s improper acts/construction eviction” as well as raising the possibility of an early termination of its lease.

Raymond James’ attorneys sought preliminary injunctions in March from U.S. District Judge John Fowlkes to let its consultants examine the elevator system and maintenance and repair records and assure the company’s “right to a reliable elevator system.”

The lawsuit alleges that in 10 months in the last year 30 employees and guests of the company have been trapped in elevators.

“Many of Raymond James’s employees now live in fear of being trapped in a confined space, suspended somewhere within the towering 21-story building,” the lawsuit reads. “These entrapments can be traumatic for the victims and have required multiple calls to the Memphis Fire Department.”

The specific claims in the lawsuit include six employees trapped for more than an hour in June 2017; 14 employees and a security officer trapped for 20 minutes before elevator doors were pried apart and one employee suffered a panic attack and a January incident in which two employees were trapped in an elevator for 30 minutes before firefighters lowered a ladder into the cab and got them out.

There are also claims that an employee was injured after she fell face first into an elevator when it bounced as she got in and a burning smell from an elevator motor that shut down all eight public elevators in the building this past June forcing firefighters to evacuate the building.

In general the lawsuit alleges 40 other “serious malfunction incidents” in the last year involving the elevators.

Fowlkes ruled that the company didn’t show “irreparable harm” if the injunctions weren’t issued.

Both sides had cancelled a hearing on the injunction request in February saying they were near an agreement that would resolve the issues.

Attorneys for 50 North Front St. Tn LLC, the landlords, in their response to the motion for the injunctions said the elevators are safe and Raymond James is attempting to “change the terms of its (2014) commercial lease it entered into for a 10-year term knowing full well that the building and its systems are not going to become younger.”

“The lease terms were bargained for and agreed to, including a period of several years during which Raymond James pays no rent, a savings to Raymond James of close to $9 million,” the response reads. “Raymond James now demands that landlord provide brand-new elevators without respect to the lease and without regard to financial realities.”

The response likens the demand to buying an extended warranty on a three-year old car including terms for repairs and maintenance “but instead you demand a brand-new car.”

50 North Front also says it agreed to let an elevator company inspect the building’s elevators.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 56 437 16,061
MORTGAGES 76 508 18,556
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 56 2,461
BUILDING PERMITS 241 876 33,390
BANKRUPTCIES 64 301 10,314
BUSINESS LICENSES 15 125 5,303
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 17 125 6,273
MARRIAGE LICENSES 19 98 3,511