LOS ANGELES — A jury on Thursday found that owners of the Glendale Galleria tried to block leading restaurant chain the Cheesecake Factory from signing a lease at the Americana at Brand, and awarded Americana developer Caruso Affiliated Holdings $74 million in damages.
The jury also determined that Galleria owner General Growth Properties acted with malice, oppression or fraud, a legal standard that triggers additional punitive damages. The trial will resume Tuesday to assess the amount of the penalty.
After signing a July 2003 letter of intent to negotiate a lease at the Americana, the Cheesecake Factory didn’t ink a deal until February 2007. The restaurant hesitated, Caruso attorneys argued, because General Growth — a Chicago-based real estate investment trust that owns and manages more than 200 malls nationwide and is the restaurant’s biggest landlord — threatened to block Cheesecake Factory deals at other General Growth malls.