Mall operator sues Starbucks over Teavana closures

INDIANAPOLIS -- Simon Property Group, one of the nation's largest mall operators, has filed a lawsuit against Starbucks over for its plans to shutter all of the Teavana stores operating in its centers  nationwide.

In the lawsuit filed Aug. 21, Simon officials argued that their shopping centers rely on each of their tenants fulfilling their lease obligations, including continuously operating in the space for the entire lease term.

But when Starbucks announced July 27 that it would be closing all 379 of its Teavana stores, including the 78 stores in Simon shopping centers, the company "put its stock price above its contractual obligations, the viability of Simon and its Shopping Centers, other retailers and consumers who count on the Teavana stores."

The lawsuit filed in Marion County, Ind., also noted that Starbucks made the decision "unilaterally, without prior consent from Simon."

During the July 27 announcement, Starbucks officials said the Teavana stores will be closed by next spring and the 3,300 employees will be able to apply for jobs in Starbucks stores, where it is expected to create 68,000 new jobs in the next five years.

Simon, the Indianapolis-based shopping mall giant, is now seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction to keep Starbucks from closing the stores early, as well as all appropriate relief as a result of this legal action.

"Starbucks does not contend that Simon breached any lease or that Starbucks cannot remain viable if it continues to honor its promises in its leases for stores in Simon's Shopping Centers," the lawsuit states. "Instead, Starbucks simply believes it can make more money if it violates the leases than if it honored the contractual promises and obligations."

Simon owns Tacoma Mall, Northgate Mall in Seattle, Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip, and North Bend Premium Outlets.

KING 5's Travis Pittman contributed to this report.

© 2017 KING-TV


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