United States of America v. Epstein case brief summary
27 F. Supp. 2d. 404 (1998)
Plaintiff government lessor (lessor)
brought an action to evict defendants, lessee and subtenants
(lessees) from a building formerly used as a home of a deputy consul
general. The lessor obtained possession to the property pursuant to
the Foreign Mission Act, 22 U.S.C.S. § 4301 et seq., and then
subleased the property allegedly without permission, and the
sublessee then sublet the property. The lessees brought a motion for
CASE FACTS The lessees claimed the lessor orally
consented to subleasing, and the lessor did not terminate the lease
as the lessor breached an implied covenant of good faith and fair
dealings by unreasonably withholding written consent to the original
lessees' sublease request.
The court rejected the claims and found
under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) the lessor had the burden to
prove there was no genuine issue of material fact.
The court held the
contract had to be interpreted to determine the parties' intent, and
the lease clearly required advance written notice of the lessor to
The court needed to determine whether federal
contract law or state law applied and under state law when a lease
required a tenant to obtain prior written consent of the landlord to
sublet or assign leased premises.
A landlord may have refused consent
arbitrarily unless lease stated the landlord might not have
unreasonably withheld consent.
The court held state law applied as
there was no federal statutory or common-law of landlord and tenant,
landlord-tenant law was traditionally a matter of state law and
between general federal contract principles and specific
landlord-tenant law, the latter applied.
The court granted the lessor's motion for summary judgment on its
claim of ejectment. Suggested law school study materials
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