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Baker Botts Wins Landmark Jury Trial Victory in California for Grupo Flor, a Leading Cannabis Company

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SAN FRANCISCO, November 18, 2019 – A California jury rendered a verdict late Friday in favor of Baker Botts client, Grupo Flor, a leading California-based cannabis company, in a case against its prior landlord and real estate developer, Mr. Nader Agha and the Moss Landing Commercial Park, LLC. The Grupo Flor trial victory is the first of its kind since recreational cannabis use was legalized in California in 2018.

The trial lasted three weeks in Monterey County Superior Court, with Judge Susan J. Matcham presiding. After testimony by cannabis cultivators, manufacturers, distributors and industry experts and professionals, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Grupo Flor.

The landlord initially filed a lawsuit against Grupo Flor alleging forgery and seeking to invalidate its leases. On Friday, the jury found for Grupo Flor on every single claim in that lawsuit. After that lawsuit was filed, Grupo Flor countersued, with a principal claim of breach of contract. The jury on Friday found in favor of Grupo Flor on the breach-of-contract claim as well.

“This victory shows that the cannabis industry can bring and win cases before California courts and juries, just like any other serious business,” said Jonathan Shapiro, a San Francisco-based partner and California Litigation Chair at Baker Botts and lead trial counsel for Grupo Flor. “Grupo Flor was sued two years ago for forgery and other alleged misconduct. At the end of the day, every one of those claims failed and Grupo Flor soundly prevailed. The jury rightly found that Agha’s Moss Landing Commercial Park, LLC breached its written contracts with Grupo Flor.”

“This verdict marks an important step in the evolution of the cannabis industry,” said Gavin Kogan, Grupo Flor’s Chief Executive Officer. “The commercial rights of cannabis companies require the same legal protections as other businesses that contribute to California’s economy.”

The Baker Botts trial team was led by San Francisco partner and California Litigation Chair Jonathan Shapiro, and included Ariel House, Tania Rice and Brian Jacobsmeyer.

 

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