American Eagle calls Northlake Mall ‘reminiscent of warzone’ in counterclaim over lease

In the battle over a broken lease, clothing retailer American Eagle says Northlake Mall was “reminiscent of a warzone.”

That’s according to new court documents obtained Tuesday by Channel 9′s Joe Bruno. After Northlake Mall filed lawsuits against five stores for breaking their leases, American Eagle is fighting back with a bold counterclaim against the mall’s operators.

Spinoso Real Estate Group, which operates the mall in north Charlotte, sued American Eagle and others in late July, alleging that the store vacated and abandoned the premises on April 29. The original lawsuit said American Eagle had a lease through Jan. 31, 2024.

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American Eagle’s parent company, AE Outfitters Retail Co., responded with the counterclaim on Tuesday, saying that the lease permits the company to leave the store unattended “due to emergency events beyond tenant’s anticipation and control.”

American Eagle claims that “rampant violence at Northlake Mall” and a new chaperone policy for teen shoppers “constitute such emergency events.”

AE says in the lawsuit that Spinoso promised to lease them space in a shopping center “in accordance with the standards of first-class shopping centers.”

“Instead, Spinoso allowed the shopping center - Northlake Mall - to deteriorate into an atmosphere reminiscent of a warzone, replete with violent criminals, multiple shootings, terrorized tenants and customers, and diminished business.”

The lawsuit claims the Apple store moved out of the mall after three shootings at Northlake Mall. Channel 9 reported on at least three shootings in the area since last October:

After a rash of shootings, the mall’s operators put in a new policy saying children under 18 had to be accompanied by an adult after 3 p.m. on weekends. The lawsuit says that policy affected “a substantial percentage of AEO Retail’s customer base” because it prevented teenagers from shopping at its store “during key retail times.”

When the shootings continued, Spinoso increased security measures like adding K-9 patrol and firearms detectors. The lawsuit claims they were “security measures that one might expect at a prison.”

American Eagle isn’t stopping at getting out of the lease, either. The company wants to take Spinoso to trial to determine how much the mall operator should pay for harm to AE’s business. The claims say the damages are in excess of $75,000.


Channel 9 is reaching out to Spinoso for comment on the lawsuit. We’ll update this article with their response.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

(WATCH: ‘That would eat a car’: Sinkhole forms just outside Northlake Mall)