American Eagle, a prominent clothing brand with a significant presence at Westfield’s San Francisco Centre on Market Street, has taken legal action against the former operator of the mall, accusing it of allowing the property to “deteriorate into disarray” and become a hotbed for criminal activity, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The lawsuit contends that between May 2020 and May 2023, more than 100 significant security incidents occurred within the American Eagle store.
American Eagle alleges that Westfield, the co-owner and operator of the mall, neglected essential security measures and basic management duties stipulated in the clothing brand’s lease agreement.
Employees have subsequently been subjected to a range of security incidents, including “gun violence, physical assaults, burglaries, and robberies,” since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020. The lawsuit also says that “on multiple occasions” patrons “brandished firearms while verbally assaulting the store’s employees.”
Filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Monday, the lawsuit demands “all actual and compensatory monetary damages” due to the alleged breach of contract concerning mall security and maintenance, as outlined in American Eagle’s lease agreement that extends until 2028.
In June, Westfield announced that it would transfer control of its San Francisco shopping center on Market Street to its lender, citing “challenging operating conditions” as the reason.
“Westfield cannot walk away from the harm that it has caused without consequence,” American Eagle’s lawsuit states. “It must be held accountable for the damages caused by its failures and broken promises.”
This lawsuit emerges amidst a series of setbacks for San Francisco’s Union Square district. Since 2019, more than 90 retailers have closed up shop in San Francisco’s Union Square area, according to the San Francisco Standard.