A federal jury in northern Indiana has ordered Simon Property Group Inc. to pay a rival mall owner $2.4 million in damages relating to charges that Simon engaged in anti-competitive practices.
Tuesday’s verdict came after a 12-day trial in the long-running dispute between Simon and Gumwood HP Shopping Partners, an entity of South Bend-based Holladay Properties Inc.
Gumwood claimed in its antitrust suit filed in 2011 that Simon used anticompetitive tactics to poach retailers interested in Holladay’s Heritage Square lifestyle development.
Simon, the largest mall owner in the country, saw the project as a threat to a lifestyle component it was adding to its own University Park Mall.
Gumwood’s charges stem from 2006, when Simon allegedly began pressuring tenants such as Ann Taylor into signing leases at University Park rather than at Gumwood’s newer Heritage Square a mile away in Granger.
Gumwood said that it discovered internal Simon emails from executives threatening to terminate leases for Ann Taylor stores at more lucrative malls if the women’s clothing retailer didn’t sign a lease at University Park.
The trial was held in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in South Bend.
A Simon spokesman said the company intends “to pursue our appeal rights.”