Exclusive-remedy provision of lease between Landlord and MCPO did not bar MCPO from asserting that it was evicted by acts or omissions of the Landlord

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Appellants-Plaintiffs, Village Commons, LLC and Rynalco, Inc. (collectively, Landlord), appeals the trial court’s judgment in favor of the Appellees-Defendants, Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and Carl Brizzi, in his official capacity as Marion County Prosecutor (MCPO).  Landlord raises three issues for our review, which we restate as:

(1) Whether the exclusive-remedy provision of the lease between Landlord and the MCPO barred the MCPO from asserting that it was evicted by acts or omissions of the Landlord;

(2) Whether the trial court’s findings that the MCPO was both actually evicted and constructively evicted were clearly erroneous; and

(3) Whether a provision limiting the MCPO’s time to sue barred the MCPO’s defenses and counterclaims.
Conclusion (slip op. at 16-17):  We conclude that (1) the exclusive-remedy provision of the Lease did not bar the MCPO from asserting a wrongful eviction defense; (2) the trial court’s findings that the MCPO had been both constructively evicted and actually evicted were not clearly erroneous; and (3) the provision of the Lease defining the MCPO’s time to sue did not bar the MCPO from asserting wrongful eviction as a defense or bringing counterclaims when the Landlord initiated the action.  Affirmed.


Key Analysis
(slip op. at 10, 13, 15):  We conclude from the unambiguous language of the Lease that the MCPO did not have the right to terminate the Lease or withhold, setoff, or abate any rent due . . . evidence supports the trial court’s findings that the MCPO was deprived of a material part of the leased premises . . . we hold that it was the Landlord’s own act or omission that resulted in extinguishing MCPO’s future rent payment obligations.

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