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Judge Decides Not to Throw Out Northwood Centre Owner's Lawsuit Against State

Northwood Center
Posted at 4:25 PM, Oct 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-20 16:25:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Owners of the Northwood Centre will be able argue their case against the State of Florida regarding the state's order to cancel the owner's lease for the building. 

Northwood Associates, the owners of The Northwood Centre in Tallahassee, said that on Monday, a judge dismissed the state's request to throw out their lawsuit against them.

This comes after Northwood Associates filed their lawsuit back in April. In response, the state filed a motion to dismiss the complaint in May, but after a hearing on Oct. 6, Circuit Judge Karen Gievers denied the state’s motion.  

Stuart Silberberg, a principal with Ajax Advisors (parent company of Northwood Associates), claimed that Florida law was violated when the state ordered a cancellation of the leased office space. Silberberg issued the following statement:

“The State of Florida relied on an improper procedure and unsupported reasoning to terminate a valid contract, and then tried to keep us from having our day in court. We are pleased the judge rejected this attempt to block Northwood Associates from presenting our case.

“Like everyone else, the state is going to have to justify its actions in a court of law. We look forward to presenting our case, which we believe will demonstrate that the state’s action of unilaterally abandoning the leases was invalid and unconstitutional.”

According to the Northwood Associates, they are asking that the courts stop the state from ending the lease in addition to compensatory damages.

The Legislature prohibited state funds from being used to pay for any agency leases at the Northwood Center, beginning on July 1. The building owners say that is invalid because those funds are already set aside in the General Appropriations Act.

They also claim in the lawsuit that they have met lease obligations and performed air quality testing and giving out reports of those test results to the tenants.

Prior to the lawsuit from the state, Northwood Associates were sued by a group of former and current state workers who said they were made sick by mold, bat feces, and poor air quality in the office building. 

Another court hearing has not been set yet.