Friday, September 09, 2016

USPS v. Ester (9th Cir. - Sept. 9, 2016)

I'm rooting for the United States Postal Service.  Which, happily, wins.

The USPS has leased a branch post office in Bellevue, Washington for 50 years, pursuant to a lease that requires a specified amount of rent and an option for the USPS to buy the property -- at various diminishing prices over time -- at the end of the lease.

After the 50 years was up, the USPS elected to buy the property for the specified $300,000 purchase price.  At this point, the property was actually worth $20 million.  But, again, the USPS had paid rent for 50 years, and presumably the lower (and yearly-diminishing) purchase price was consideration for the rental payments over the past half century.

But the owners of the building, not surprisingly, want to get out of the lease.  So they sue, claiming that at various points during the 50 year history, the USPS had never "validly" renewed the lease.  All this despite the fact that during those same 50 years the owners kept cashing every single one of those rent checks and never previously argued that the lease had not, in fact, been validly renewed.

But I guess the prospect of a $20 million dollar payday was pretty attractive.

The district court grants summary judgment, finding that no reasonable person could find a genuine issue of material fact.  The Ninth Circuit affirms.

And I go into the weekend a slightly happier man.

Justice.  Awesome to see.