• April 7, 2011

Old rock stars have to deal with hearing damage (or worse).  Miners may encounter respiratory issues due to their years of breathing in coal dust (or worse).  Many careers come with occupational hazards, of course.  Where is the longitudinal study to determine the mental health implications of lawyers’ work?  Maybe this is not something one should be light-hearted about?

Still there are times when legal analysis seems crazy-making, as when two litigants take the position that the contract they have entered into is “unambiguous” but they take opposite positions as to its “unambiguous” meaning.  (This, as all experienced litigators know, is hardly an infrequent paradox).   And it is perhaps crazy-making when the critical question in a dispute is whether a lease includes an “option to renew” or an “option to extend” but “the words ‘extend’ and ‘renew’ do not control…

U.S. District Court Judge Ann D. Montgomery (D. Minn.) ruled in favor of Plaintiff Camelot LLC and against AMC Showplace Theatres on cross-motions for summary judgment arising in a dispute over lease terms for the theater on Minneapolis’ “Block E.”  Judge Montgomery found that the contractual clause under the heading “Option to Extend” was not really an “option to extend.”  Rather it was an “option to renew.”

The distinction?  An option to renew requires renegotiation.  It requires the negotiation of a new lease.  An option to extend, on the other hand, binds.  It is not subject to renegotiation.

Judge Montgomery found that open or vague terms in the contract at issue applied were sufficiently unclear and material such that the section in the contract called an “option to extend” was, in fact, “an option to renew.”

The analysis actually makes sense even if it seems not to at first blush.   Perhaps sustained and thoughtful legal analysis actually confers positive health benefits after all?

Defendant filed its notice of appeal this week.

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