Doctors dispute building lease
It's been a partnership turned wrong and now five of Lansing's most-recognized doctors are caught up in a lawsuit.
The Leavenworth/Lansing Physicians Building, LLC, comprised of Drs. Richard E. Whitlow, Kathleen McBratney, Frank Flanner and Michael Lexow, filed a lawsuit Aug. 6 against Dr. Peter Cristiano for breach of contract.
The five doctors formed a partnership in 2005 to build a medical office that would house all five family practice physicians as well as space for additional specialty doctors.
In the lawsuit, LLC claims that Cristiano has failed to occupy the 11,373 square feet of space he signed a 10-year lease for at the new Eisenhower Medical Plaza I, 1004 Progress Dr., which opened for business June 1.
Cristiano did not return numerous messages left for him before this article was printed.
According to the lease, Cristiano was to pay $287,168 in rent annually as well as "continuously use and occupy" the location for the entire term of the contract.
Whitlow said that Cristiano's intentions to not occupy the space became apparent when a banner was placed on the old Overlook Restaurant, 720 First Terrace, announcing Cristiano's arrival to that location.
"Our point in filing a lawsuit is not to bad mouth him or say anything bad about him," Whitlow said of Cristiano. "It's a bad situation for the partnership : we just feel like we need to defend ourselves."
Whitlow said his concern was for the future of the medical building and whether it would attract tenants without the expected number of primary care physicians. He said the intention of the building was to bring the practices of the five doctors together, forming a space that would attract specialist doctors to the area.
This lawsuit could have an affect on the Lansing medical community as a whole, Whitlow said. Specialists interested in the area could feel pressured to pick sides between the doctors, he said, which could detract many.
Lexow said that the medical building has already seen this type of problem occur. He said that a few specialists who had shown interest in renting space in the building have since backed out.
So far the situation has not directly affected the patients, but Lexow said many could be disappointed because they had been told the building would become a "one-stop-shop" for all their medical needs.
The lawsuit is asking that the LLC be compensated for damages, expenses, costs and other relief set forth in the lease.