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Owner wins billboard battle near Jacob Javits

A former tenant claiming the rights to use a billboard by the Jacob Javits Center has lost their $5 million claim.

Atlantic Outdoor Advertising, the tenant who filed suit, claimed there was an oral agreement that they were allowed to continue using the billboard at 456 11th Ave that was owned by U&I Realty. In the suit, Atlantic was seeking $5 million due to the potential advertising contracts with third parties it could’ve secured if it had access to the billboard, which they claim they should have had due to an “oral license agreement.”

The owners, represented by Rosenberg & Estis’ Alexander Lycoyannis, disputed there was any oral agreement and any advertising business that Atlantic supposedly lost would not be the owner’s fault.

Previously, Atlantic had a long-term lease for a portion of U&I’s space at 456 11th Avenue to construct a billboard. In 2015, there was a settlement agreement between the two that cancelled the remaining portion of the lease and transferred ownership of the billboard from Atlantic to U&I. But Atlantic was given two short-term leases to continue operating U&I’s billboard.

While the final lease ended in mid-2016, Atlantic felt they were allowed to continue using the billboard for their business due to a supposed oral agreement while U&I claimed that there was no new lease or written agreements about letting them use the billboard.

In April, New York State Supreme Court Judge Timothy Driscoll ruled in favor of U&I and dismissed Atlantic’s suit. The judge agreed with U&I that any oral agreements didn’t hold any weight compared to previous written agreements.

“From time to time, owners are faced with specious claims by tenants regarding oral understandings that conflict with the parties’ written agreements,” Lycoyannis said. “The Court’s ruling reaffirms that owners can rely on the clear language of leases, licenses and other negotiated agreements.”

Lycoyannis added that written agreements had much more merit than “suspicious, self-serving oral agreements.”

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