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Profiling a contract gone wrong: Verizon, NYC spat

When a recent New York Times article refers to the "contentious tone" of a contractual dispute between city officials and executives from communications service provider Verizon, it can reasonably be assumed that more than a modicum of existing acrimony is already on display.

And, indeed, back-and-forth vitriol between the two parties is manifest and growing, with its most recent escalation being evidenced by this: a lawsuit filed in state court in Manhattan last week by the city that paints Verizon in a flatly adverse way.

The telecommunications giant stands accused of material contract breach, with invectives aimed at its alleged wrongful behavior denoting a failed pledge to New Yorkers and the necessity now of "holding [it's] feet to the fire."

Unsurprisingly, Verizon is not suffering the diatribes -- and attendant claim for damages -- passively or silently, countering that the city is pursuing "a frivolous lawsuit" and collectively undermining the best interests of metro consumers in the process.

Unsurprisingly, it's all a bit complicated.

In a nutshell, though, the disagreement can be distilled down to this: Regarding the contract executed in 2008 providing that Verizon would build a high-speed cable system across the city, the city says that the company has failed miserably, while Verizon officials simultaneously claim that they succeeded in an admirable manner.

The city argues that the needs of many thousands of consumers remain unmet. Verizon says that any such deficiency owes to uncooperative city landlords who denied access to the company needed for running cable. The city claims that the service provider was contractually tasked to connect cable to every dwelling across the metro area. Verizon counters that its duty was fully satisfied by simply running -- not connecting -- the laid cable.

Moreover, the company contends, city officials know that and are purposefully misconstruing the contractual understanding inked with the previous mayoral administration.

We note on a relevant page of our business law website at the proven law firm of Rich Michaelson Magaliff Moser, LLP, that "misinterpretations are often at the heart of [contractual] disputes."

We'll have a bit more to say about that in our next post. We hope you will find it informative.

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