Bridge Over Troubled Waters, which provides services for homeless youth, is suing a Chicago-based chain of tea shops, which it says simply abandoned the space it had agreed to rent in the non-profit group's downtown building.
In a suit filed this week in US District Court in Boston, Bridge Over Troubled Waters wants to keep the security deposit Argo Tea put down on the storefront at 47 West St., and wants to get paid back rent for the space, along with damages.
The suit alleges that Argo, which had an outlet at the Natick Mall, signed a lease in January, then failed to obtain the required city permits to open a tea shop without telling Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Also, the chain is refusing to return the keys to the storefront, the group says.
The non-profit group says it's out $1.5 million, in part because it's been unable to find anybody else willing to rent the space, and says Argo's actions warrant even more in damages:
[Argo], a high-end tea retailer with multiple locations throughout the United States and the Middle East, abandoned its intention to expand its
offerings to Boston Common. It then decided to leave its landlord, Bridge Over Troubled Waters (“Bridge”), a non-profit organization serving runaway, homeless and high-risk youth, holding the bag. Argo Tea has breached its unambiguous contractual obligations to Bridge and has caused Bridge more than $1.5 million in actual damages. Argo Tea has also engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices in an effort to deprive Bridge (and the at-risk youth that it serves) of the benefit of a bargain of vital importance to Bridge’s essential mission. Argo Tea’s unlawful conduct is steeped in misrepresentation and deceit and was both knowing and willful. A multiple damage award against Argo Tea is fully warranted.