Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

v3.22.2.2
Commitments and Contingencies
9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2022
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies Commitments and Contingencies
Insurance
    
The Company carries comprehensive liability, fire, extended coverage, business interruption and rental loss insurance covering all of the properties in its portfolio under an insurance policy, in addition to other coverages, such as trademark and pollution coverage that may be appropriate for certain of its properties. Additionally, the Company carries a directors’, officers’, entity and employment practices liability insurance policy that covers such claims made against the Company and its directors and officers. The Company believes the policy specifications and insured limits are appropriate and adequate for its properties given the relative risk of loss, the cost of the coverage and industry practice; however, its insurance coverage may not be sufficient to fully cover its losses.

Concentration of Credit Risk
    
The Company is subject to risks incidental to the ownership and operation of commercial real estate. These risks include, among others, the risks normally associated with changes in the general economic climate, trends in the retail industry, creditworthiness of tenants, competition for tenants and customers, changes in tax laws, interest rates, the availability of financing and potential liability under environmental and other laws.
    
The Company’s portfolio of properties is dependent upon regional and local economic conditions and is geographically concentrated in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, which markets represent approximately 41%, 44% and 15% respectively, of the total annualized base rent of the properties in its portfolio as of September 30, 2022. The Company’s geographic concentration may cause it to be more susceptible to adverse developments in those markets than if it owned a more geographically diverse portfolio. Additionally, the Company’s retail shopping center properties depend on anchor stores or major tenants to attract shoppers and could be adversely affected by the loss of, or a store closure by, one or more of these tenants.

Regulatory and Environmental
    
As the owner of the buildings on our properties, the Company could face liability for the presence of hazardous materials (e.g., asbestos or lead) or other adverse conditions (e.g., poor indoor air quality) in its buildings. Environmental laws govern the presence, maintenance, and removal of hazardous materials in buildings, and if the Company does not comply with such laws, it could face fines for such noncompliance. Also, the Company could be liable to third parties (e.g., occupants of the buildings) for damages related to exposure to hazardous materials or adverse conditions in its buildings, and the Company could incur material expenses with respect to abatement or remediation of hazardous materials or other adverse conditions in its buildings. In addition, some of the Company’s tenants routinely handle and use hazardous or regulated substances and wastes as part of their operations at our properties, which are subject to regulation. Such environmental and health and safety laws and regulations could subject the Company or its tenants to liability resulting from these activities. Environmental liabilities could affect a tenant’s ability to make rental payments to the Company, and changes in laws could increase the potential liability for noncompliance. This may result in significant unanticipated expenditures or may otherwise materially and adversely affect the
Company’s operations. The Company is not aware of any material contingent liabilities, regulatory matters or environmental matters that may exist.

Litigation
    
The Company is involved in various legal proceedings arising in the ordinary course of its business, including, but not limited to commercial disputes. The Company believes that such litigation, claims and administrative proceedings will not have a material adverse impact on its financial position or its results of operations. The Company records a liability when it considers the loss probable and the amount can be reasonably estimated. In addition, the below legal proceedings are in process:

David Kelly v. Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc., Circuit Court for the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Former CEO David Kelly filed suit on May 28, 2020, alleging breach of his employment contract. On March 15, 2022, the Court granted Mr. Kelly $340 thousand with interest thereon at a rate of 6% per annum from the date of termination, April 13, 2020, until paid, plus attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $311 thousand. On March 31, 2022, $691 thousand was paid to Mr. Kelly. The Company has now fulfilled its obligations pursuant to the Court’s Order in this case.

JCP Investment Partnership LP, et al v. Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc., United States District Court for the District of Maryland. On March 22, 2021, JCP Investment Partnership, LP, a Texas limited partnership and stockholder of the Company, JCP Investment Partners, LP, a Texas limited partnership and stockholder of the Company, JCP Investment Holdings, LLC, a Texas limited liability company and stockholder of the Company, and JCP Investment Management, LLC, a Texas limited liability company and stockholder of the Company (collectively, the “JCP Plaintiffs”), filed suit against the Company and certain current and former directors and former officers of the Company (the “Individual Defendants”). The complaint alleges that the Company amended provisions of its charter (as set forth in the Articles Supplementary in 2018) governing the issuance of the Company’s Series D Preferred in violation of Maryland corporate law and without obtaining the consent of preferred stockholders and, therefore, the court should declare the Company’s said amendment invalid, enjoin further purportedly unauthorized amendments, and either compel the Company to redeem the JCP Plaintiffs' stock or enter judgment for monetary damages the JCP Plaintiffs purportedly sustained based on the Company’s alleged breach of its contractual duties to redeem the JCP Plaintiffs’ Series D Preferred. The complaint also alleges certain violations of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, and alleges that the Individual Defendants violated Section 20(a) of the Exchange Act. The JCP Plaintiffs are each purportedly a holder of the Company’s Series D Preferred. The complaint seeks damages, interest, attorneys’ fees, other costs and expenses, and such other relief as the court may deem just and equitable. The Company has filed an answer to the complaint denying any liability. The Individual Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, which was denied. The JCP Plaintiffs filed a Motion For Partial Summary Judgment, as to which the Company and the Individual Defendants filed oppositions. The Judge denied the JCP Plaintiffs' Motion and ordered the parties to prepare a joint discovery schedule. The Judge also ordered the parties to engage in mediation with a Magistrate Judge. During the mediation process, the Company made no offers of settlement. On or about November 2, 2022, the JCP Plaintiffs entered into a Settlement Agreement resolving all their claims against the Individual Defendants, but to which the Company did not join. Thereafter, the JCP Plaintiffs advised the Company that they had decided to dismiss their claims against the Company, and the JCP Plaintiffs requested pursuant to applicable rule that the Company consent to the filing of a Stipulation of Dismissal. The Company consented, and on November 3, 2022, the Stipulation of Dismissal was filed dismissing with prejudice all of the JCP Plaintiffs’ claims against the Company.

Steamboat Capital Partners Master Fund, LP and Steamboat Capital Partners II, LP v. Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc., Steamboat Capital Partners Master Fund, LP and Steamboat Capital Partners II, LP v. Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc., Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Maryland. On October 25, 2021, Steamboat Capital Partners Master Fund, LP, a Cayman Islands exempted limited partnership and stockholder of the Company, and Steamboat Capital Partners II, LP, a Delaware limited partnership and stockholder of the Company, filed a putative class action on behalf of holders of the Company’s Series B Preferred Stock and Series D Preferred Stock. The complaint alleges that the Company's rights offering of convertible debt to the Company's common stockholders, and the notes issued pursuant to the rights offering, breached the provisions of the Company's governing documents and violated the rights of the holders of the Series B Preferred and Series D Preferred with respect to accumulated and unpaid dividends. Plaintiffs seek relief as follows: require the Company to pay all dividends accrued, as of the date of the rights offering, on the Series B Preferred and Series D Preferred, and prohibit the Company from paying interest on the notes held by the Company's common stockholders (upon exercise of the rights) until all accrued dividends on the Series B Preferred and Series D Preferred are paid. Plaintiffs also seek a declaration that the rights offering by the Company to its common stockholders, which resulted in the issuance of notes, when accrued Series B Preferred
dividends and Series D Preferred dividends had not been fully paid, breached the provisions of the Company's governing documents. In addition, the complaint contends that the Company's amendment of its charter to remove the cumulative nature of dividends from the Series B Preferred cannot be applied retroactively. A trial date is set for May 2023. The parties each filed potentially dispositive motions. On September 20, 2022, summary judgment concluded in the Company's favor and the plaintiffs did not file an appeal.

In Re: Cedar Realty Trust, Inc. Preferred Shareholder Litigation, Case No.: 1:22-cv-1103, in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland (formerly captioned David Sydney, et. al. v. Cedar Realty Trust, Inc., Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, Inc. et al.). On April 8, 2022, several purported holders of preferred stock of Cedar Realty Trust, Inc. (“Cedar”) filed a putative class action in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland against Cedar, Cedar’s former Board of Directors, and the Company arising out of transactions that included the then pending acquisition of Cedar by the Company. The defendants removed the case to federal court. The complaint was amended on August 24, 2022 (the “Complaint”) following the Court’s denial of a motion to enjoin the merger. The Complaint includes allegations of breach of contract against Cedar with respect to the Articles Supplementary governing the terms of Cedar’s preferred stock and breach of fiduciary duty against the members of Cedar’s former Board of Directors. The plaintiffs allege that Cedar breached their liquidation and conversion rights as set forth in Cedar’s Articles Supplementary, and that the members of Cedar’s former Board of Directors breached their fiduciary duty in structuring the transactions that include the merger. The Complaint further alleges that the Company tortiously interfered with Cedar’s contract with the owners of Cedar’s preferred stock and aided and abetted the alleged breach of fiduciary duty by Cedar’s former Board of Directors. The Complaint seeks damages in an unspecified amount. The Company and Cedar have filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint in its entirety which is not yet fully briefed. At this juncture, the outcome of the litigation is uncertain.

Krasner v. Cedar Realty Trust, Inc., et. al., Index Number 613985/2022, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York County of Nassau. On October 14, 2022, a purported holder of preferred stock of Cedar filed a putative class action against Cedar, Cedar’s former Board of Directors, and the Company alleging the same claims asserted in the In Re: Cedar Realty Trust, Inc. Preferred Shareholder Litigation discussed above. The Company and Cedar intend to seek procedural relief precluding this case from proceeding in tandem with that action. At this juncture, the outcome of the litigation is uncertain.

Harbor Pointe Tax Increment Financing

On September 1, 2011, the Grove Economic Development Authority issued the Grove Economic Development Authority Tax Increment Revenue Note, Taxable Series 2011 in the amount of $2.42 million, bearing a variable interest rate of 2.29%, not to exceed 14% and payable in 50 semi-annual installments. The proceeds of the bonds were to provide funding for the construction of public infrastructure and other site improvements and to be repaid by incremental additional property taxes generated by development. Harbor Pointe Associates, LLC, then owned by an affiliate of former CEO, Jon Wheeler, entered into an Economic Development Agreement with the Grove Economic Development Authority for this infrastructure development and in the event the ad valorem taxes were insufficient to cover annual debt service, Harbor Pointe Associates, LLC would reimburse the Grove Economic Development Authority (the “Harbor Pointe Agreement”). In 2014, Harbor Pointe Associates, LLC was acquired by the Company.
 
The total debt service shortfall over the life of the bond is uncertain as it is based on ad valorem taxes, assessed property values, property tax rates, LIBOR and future potential development ranging until 2036. The Company’s future total principal obligation under the Harbor Pointe Agreement will be no more than $2.11 million, the principal amount of the bonds, as of September 30, 2022. In addition, the Company may have an interest obligation on the note based on the principal balance and LIBOR rates in effect at future payment dates. During the three and nine months ended September 30, 2022, the Company did not fund any debt service shortfalls. During the three and nine months ended September 30, 2021, the Company funded $0 and $44 thousand, respectively, in debt service shortfalls. No amounts have been accrued for this as of September 30, 2022 as a reasonable estimate of future debt service shortfalls cannot be determined based on variables noted above.