By Gina Passarella
Of the Legal Staff
Cozen O’Connor’s suit against its landlord over allegedly faulty elevators and general building disrepair has resulted in only half of the elevators being fixed. That wasn’t enough for the firm, which has now filed a motion in the case to enforce the lease’s arbitration agreement.
Cozen O'Connor sued the landlord of its 1900 Market Street office space in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in an effort to either be released from the five-year lease obligation it began last year or force the landlord into arbitration. The firm said the landlord has failed to properly maintain the Class A building and refused to arbitrate Cozen O'Connor's complaints, according to the court filing.
Landlord 1900 Market GP and its general partner OSEB Associates filed a response saying it has maintained the building in accordance with the lease, has modernized elevators despite having no contractual obligation to do so, and has no obligation to arbitrate disputes over elevator repairs as the firm suggests, according to the filing.
In a recent filing in the case, Cozen O’Connor said four of the nine elevators in the building have been modernized as of the filing of the motion, with one more in the works.
“Landlord, however, has refused to commit to completing the modernization of the remaining four elevators at the building, insisting that it has no obligation to do so,” Cozen O’Connor said in the filing. “Landlord has indicated, through counsel, that it is not willing to arbitrate this issue and that it believes it is not required to do so under the lease.”
According to Cozen O’Connor’s complaint, the firm’s employees and visitors have been trapped in elevators at the building on several occasions. The elevators take people to floors they didn't select or do not take people to floors they did select, the firm said. The buttons, directional lights, audible function and emergency phones have malfunctioned and the employees complain of long wait times, slow-moving elevators, bumpy rides or elevators that won't move at all, according to the complaint.
The firm said in its latest filing that, since the filing of the suit, the landlord has “attempted to address” some of the other issues the firm raised in its complaint regarding building maintenance. Some of those problems alleged in the complaint included a leaking atrium in the lobby during heavy rains, for which management placed buckets and trash cans to catch the water instead of repairing the leaks.
The firm also argued the HVAC system regularly malfunctioned, the cleaning services were inadequate, the plants in the atrium lobby were not properly cared for and there were odors from the loading dock.