Updated: Jul 19, 2022
On March 13, 2022, Josh Donaldson was traded to the New York Yankees from the Minnesota Twins. The blockbuster trade seems to be working well for both sides as involved players are succeeding. However, there is a side to player transactions that fans don't see. The athletes are forced to abruptly move and find a new place to live with their families, among other fresh challenges.
Donaldson, his partner (who was six months pregnant at the time), and their 17-month-old daughter needed to quickly find a residence in the New York metropolitan area in advance of the Yankees’ Opening Day on April 7, 2022. On April 1, 2022, Donaldson did find a place, located in Greenwich, Connecticut. He entered into a lease agreement with Defendant Bill Grous to lease the residential property. Pursuant to the lease, Plaintiff Donaldson agreed to pay Defendant rent in the amount of $55,000 per month and a security deposit in the amount of $110,000.
Despite contractual language requiring the lessor to maintain the leasehold “in a fit and livable condition," Donaldson and his partner noticed a host of issues. Those issues included, but are not limited to, ant infestation, non-working showers, water damage, broken toilets, and squirrels infiltrating the house.
Defendant called workmen to attempt to rectify the issues. However, Donaldson says in the complaint that this was "a hopeless attempt." "Defendant had workmen constantly coming to the Premises often without notice." "Not only did these workmen not resolve many of the issues, but they interrupted Plaintiff’s sleep (a priority for a professional athlete)."
In addition, shortly after moving in, Donaldson's partner and their daughter both developed lung congestion and a lingering cough. Per the complaint, an inspection conducted by a professional environmental testing company on April 19, 2022 revealed an extensive and widespread infestation of Chaetomium mold and Aspergillus mold throughout several key rooms in the house.
On May 17, 2022, after defendant failed to cure the mold, Plaintiff’s counsel sent Defendant a formal notice confirming that the lease had terminated and that the premises were being vacated and demanding an immediate return of the security deposit. Up to June 24, 2022, the date of filing of this lawsuit, Defendant has still not returned the $110,000 deposit.
Thus, Donaldson filed this suit for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, and violation of Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Jason Morrin is a recent graduate of Hofstra Law School. He was the President of Hofstra’s Sports and Entertainment Law Society. He will be a Law Clerk at Zumpano, Patricios, & Popok after taking the July, 2022 Bar Exam. He can be found on Twitter @Jason_Morrin.