© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Conn. Supreme Court considers whether pandemic restrictions affect restaurant lease

 The justices of the Connecticut Supreme Court take their seats before arguments on November 16, 2021.
Still image from video feed by CT-N.
The justices of the Connecticut Supreme Court take their seats before arguments on Nov. 16, 2021.

The Connecticut Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in a Norwalk case that will address whether the tenant or the landlord takes on the financial risk when unprecedented pandemic executive orders limit a restaurant’s cash flow.

The landlord, AGW SoNo Partners LLC, claims it is owed $200,308.76 in damages for unpaid lease payments from March 2020 through December 2020.

That stretch covers a period of executive orders that limited indoor dining during the coronavirus crisis. Philip Russell, who represents restaurant owner Downtown Soho LLC, said his client’s lease called for regularly serving about 140 guests at up to $200 a head. But when Gov. Ned Lamont’s public health restrictions took effect, Russell said his client could serve only eight tables or offer takeout. The restaurant couldn’t hit its pre-COVID targets.

“In this case, we had a contractual obligation to operate a high-end restaurant, quoting from the contract, and for no other purpose," Russell said.

Andrew Nevas, an attorney for the landlord, said nothing in the lease promised that his client would cover losses under an act of God like a global pandemic. He cited three similar pandemic lease disputes in New York and New Jersey, where judges have told tenants they still owe rent.

Cassandra Basler oversees Connecticut Public’s flagship daily news programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She’s also an editor of the station’s limited series podcast, 'In Absentia' and producer of the five-part podcast Unforgotten: Connecticut’s Hidden History of Slavery.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.