The Maryland Daily Record has posted a list of Maryland's top ten verdicts in 2010. Venable topped the list with its representation of the Penrose Group, which was awarded over $36 million by a Montgomery County jury in a land development case. Venable's representation of the Penrose Group was one of the largest verdicts ever awarded in Montgomery County.
Penrose, seeking to build two 351-unit luxury apartment buildings in Bethesda, MD, entered into a ground lease with two property owners in 2004. However, the owners of the land breached their ground lease, preventing Penrose from securing the needed investment and construction loans to continue the project. This led Penrose to file a claim to recover the monies they had spent and profit they would have made if they had been permitted to build.
Venable successfully argued and won the case after three-and-a-half years of litigation, resulting in a jury verdict of more than $36 million in favor of Penrose, in addition to attorneys' fees.
Venable partner Brian Schwalb stated, "My experience as a trial lawyer is jurors don't look at themselves as ATMs and they're not willing to award millions of dollars…unless the plaintiff has proven an entitlement to the money. I think it is a big verdict, but when you look at how many millions in dollars of profit my clients would have made had they been able to build the buildings in Bethesda, it might sound like less."
Schwalb added, "The jury figured out it was a high-stakes case where the landowners were attempting to renege on the deal they made with Penrose for their own gain."