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Patriot-BSP City Center II v. U.S. Bank National Association

June 7, 2010

PATRIOT-BSP CITY CENTER II ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Re Document No. 1

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE PLAINTIFFS'MOTION FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the court on the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order. The plaintiffs, a group of commercial real estate developers, entered into a loan transaction ("the Loan Agreement") with the defendants to purchase, renovate and lease out a property in Northeast D.C. The renovation did not proceed as planned, and the plaintiffs defaulted on their loan in early 2009. The defendants have now scheduled a foreclosure sale to occur on June 8, 2010. The plaintiffs have filed suit against the defendants, along with a motion for a temporary restraining order ("TRO") to enjoin the foreclosure sale. Upon consideration of the parties' expedited submissions on the TRO motion, the court concludes that the plaintiffs have demonstrated their entitlement to temporary injunctive relief. Accordingly, the court grants the plaintiffs' motion.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 9, 2008, the plaintiffs entered into the Loan Agreement with defendant U.S. Bank National Association ("U.S. Bank" or "the bank"), pursuant to which the bank agreed to lend the plaintiffs approximately $66 million to purchase and renovate the Hecht Company Warehouse, an art deco "Streamline Moderne" style building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Am. Compl. ¶ 15-17. The plaintiffs planned to eventually lease or sell the property to third parties. Id. The Loan Agreement required the plaintiffs to pay interest on the outstanding balance of the loan on a monthly basis, and to repay the principal amount of the loan on January 10, 2011. Id. ¶¶ 18-19. The Loan Agreement also included a "Leasing Hurdle" provision requiring the plaintiffs to lease out at least thirty percent of the property by April 10, 2009.*fn1 Id., Ex. A ("Loan Agreement") ¶ 5.2. The plaintiffs failed to meet the Leasing Hurdle deadline; indeed, none of the space has been leased out to date. Pls.' Mot. at 6. The plaintiffs have also failed to pay property taxes, utility expenses, interest payments and construction fees. Id.; Defs.' Opp'n at 11. As a result, a mechanic's lien and water and sewage authority liens have been placed on the property. Id.

On October 21, 2009, U.S. Bank delivered a letter to the plaintiffs alleging that the plaintiffs had defaulted on their loan payments and demanding that the plaintiffs cure their default. Pls.' Mot. at 6; Defs.' Opp'n at 9-10. The plaintiffs failed to cure the default, and on April 23, 2010, the bank filed suit to compel the plaintiffs to satisfy their obligations under the Loan Agreement. Pls.' Mot. at 10; Defs.' Opp. at 11-12. On April 30, 2010, the bank commenced a second lawsuit for breach of the Loan Agreement. Id. On or about May 5, 2010, the bank notified the plaintiffs that it intended to hold a foreclosure sale on the property on June 8, 2010 at 12:30 p.m. Defs.' Opp'n at 12; Pls.' Mot. at 11.

The plaintiffs commenced this lawsuit on May 24, 2010 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. See generally Compl. Along with the complaint, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a TRO to enjoin the defendants from proceeding with the foreclosure sale. See generally Pls.' Mot. The defendants removed the action to this court on May 28, 2010, see Notice of Removal, and the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on June 2, 2010, see generally Am. Compl. The defendants filed their opposition to the plaintiffs' TRO motion on June 1, 2010, see generally Defs.' Opp'n, and the plaintiffs filed a reply on June 2, 2010, see generally Pls.' Reply. With the motion now ripe for adjudication, the court turns to the legal standard and the parties' arguments.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Injunctive Relief

This court may issue interim injunctive relief only when the movant demonstrates "[1] that he is likely to succeed on the merits, [2] that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, [3] that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and [4] that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 129 S.Ct. 365, 374 (2008) (citing Munaf v. Geren, 128 S.Ct. 2207, 2218-19 (2008)). It is particularly important for the movant to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits. Cf. Benten v. Kessler, 505 U.S. 1084, 1085 (1992) (per curiam). Indeed, absent a "substantial indication" of likely success on the merits, "there would be no justification for the court's intrusion into the ordinary processes of administration and judicial review." Am. Bankers Ass'n v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 38 F. Supp. 2d 114, 140 (D.D.C. 1999) (internal quotation omitted).

The other critical factor in the injunctive relief analysis is irreparable injury. A movant must "demonstrate that irreparable injury is likely in the absence of an injunction." Winter, 129 S.Ct. at 375 (citing Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 103 (1983)). Indeed, if a party fails to make a sufficient showing of irreparable injury, the court may deny the motion for injunctive relief without considering the other factors. CityFed Fin. Corp. v. Office of Thrift Supervision, 58 F.3d 738, 747 (D.C. Cir. 1986).Provided the plaintiff demonstrates a likelihood of success on the merits and of irreparable injury, the court "must balance the competing claims of injury and must consider the effect on each party of the granting or withholding of the requested relief." Amoco Prod. Co. v. Gambell, 480 U.S. 531, 542 (1987). Finally, "courts of equity should pay particular regard for the public consequences in employing the extraordinary remedy of injunction." Weinberger v. Romero-Barcelo, 456 U.S. 305, 312 (1982).

As an extraordinary remedy, courts should grant such relief sparingly. Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997). The Supreme Court has observed "that a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion." Id. Therefore, although the trial court has the discretion to issue or deny a preliminary injunction, it is not a form of relief granted lightly.In addition, any injunction that the court issues must be ...


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