The Trump World Tower is a 72 story luxury condominium building constructed at 845 United Nations Plaza in Manhattan, New York. Before the building was constructed, 845 UN Limited Partnership (845 UN) began selling condominiums at the building. The condominium offering plan required a nonrefundable down payment of 25 percent of the purchase price. The purchase contract provided that if a purchaser defaulted and did not complete the purchase, 845 UN could keep the 25 percent down payment as liquidated damages.
Cem Uzan and Hakan Uzan, brothers and Turkish billionaires, each contracted to purchase two condominium units on the top floors of the building. Both Cem and Hakan were represented by attorneys. Over the course of two years, while the building was being constructed, the brothers paid the 25 percent nonrefundable down payment of $ 8 million. On September 11, 2001, before the building was complete, terrorists attacked New York City by flying two planes into the World Trade Center, the city’s two tallest buildings, murdering thousands of people.
Cem and Hakan sent letters to 845 UN, rescinding their purchase agreements because of the terrorist attack that occurred on September 11. Thus, 845 UN terminated the four purchase agreements and kept the 25 percent down payments on the four condominiums as liquidated damages. Cem and Hakan sued 845 UN, alleging that the money should be returned to them. However, 845 UN defended, arguing that the 25 percent nonrefundable down payment was an enforceable liquidated damages clause. Is the liquidated damage clause enforceable? Uzan v. 845 UN Limited Partnership, 10 A. D. 3d 230, 778 N. Y. S. 2d 171, 2004 N. Y. App. Div. Lexis 8362 (Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, 2004)