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1998-11-15
Jefferson County, TX

A jury has awarded 4 investors, and their company, Gulf Coast Investment, $1 million in actual damages, and $500,000 in expemplary damages in a lawsuit against Wal-Mart. Gulf Coast charged Wal-Mart with breach of contract and interference with prospective business relations. The case stems back to 1982 in Nederland, TX, when Wal-Mart sold land next to one of its stores to the investors. Eight years later, a bank had foreclosed on the property, but the investors came up with a development deal and were in the process of repurchasing the property.The investors struck a deal with a supermarket to open a store on the parcel. About a year prior to this deal, Wal-Mart began efforts to buy the land back, without telling the investors. In fact, Wal-Mart encouraged the investors to proceed with their plans to build a supermarket. Wal-Mart's agents then contacted the supermarket company, and indicated that THEY wanted the land back, and that if they didn't get the land, they would move their neighboring Wal-Mart store out of the shopping center. Wal-Mart also refused to agree to certain easement and convenant restrictions, forcing the investors deal with the supermarket to collapse. Gulf Coast then sued Wal-Mart for breach of contract and interference with prospective business relations. At trial, the investors brought forward 5 other lawsuits wherein Wal-Mart was charged with similar interference with contractual relationships. The trial court did not allow these cases to be introduced into evidence. During the case, it was revealed that Wal-Mart's property manager had shredded a file dealing with this tract of land, and that this shredding of documents was not done in the ordinary course of business, the investors claim, but "an intentional destruction of evidence". Wal-Mart's real estate manager also sent a thank you note to a superior at Wal-Mart thanking him for destroying the investor's agreement with the supermarket. The investors calculated that they lost $2 million in profits when the deal fell through. The Court found that Wal-Mart's agents "conspired to destroy" the investor's deal, which was evidence "of ill will, evil motive, or gross indifference or reckless disregard for the rights of others."

What you can do: For related cases of breach of contract involving Wal-Mart, contact Sprawl-Busters at info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
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