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Jenner & Block won a major appellate victory on behalf of client Marriott International, Inc. on December 3, 2013, when the Dallas Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a grant of summary judgment in Marriott's favor in a long-running dispute with Miller Global Properties.
Miller Global, a Denver-based real estate owner and developer, bought the luxury JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa from Marriott in 2007, while the resort was still under development. In 2009, Miller Global sued Marriott, claiming that it was induced to purchase the resort by Marriott’s alleged representations that architectural plans for the resort were complete and construction costs would not exceed $467 million. By the time Miller Global finished construction, the resort had cost almost $560 million; Miller Global sought to recover the cost overruns and various other contract and tort damages from Marriott totaling approximately $200 million.
In 2011, the Texas state trial court granted Marriott summary judgment on the tort claims, based on the court’s finding that Miller Global could not reasonably have relied on pre-contract representations, assuming any had been made, because the parties' contract expressly disclaimed all extra-contractual representations. Marriott and Miller Global continued to litigate the remaining contract claims for another six months, but two days before the trial was scheduled to begin in February 2012, Miller Global voluntarily dismissed its contract claims and appealed the summary judgment ruling.
Jenner & Block Partner Matthew S. Hellman argued the appeal for Marriott. Miller Global relied principally on a recent decision of the Texas Supreme Court, Italian Cowboy Partners v. Prudential Insurance Co., in which the court had refused to dismiss a claim for fraudulent inducement, notwithstanding contractual disclaimers of prior representations. The appellate court accepted Mr. Hellman’s arguments, however, and affirmed the lower court’s summary judgment ruling.
In addition to Matt Hellman, the Jenner & Block team on the appeal included Partner David A. Handzo and Associate Adam G. Unikowsky; the trial team also included Partners Julie M. Carpenter, Jessie K. Liu and Joshua M. Segal and Associates Marina K. Jenkins and Leah J. Tulin.