In late 2009, Cordish leased a nearly 108,000-square-foot building at Joppatowne Plaza to J.T.F. LLC, which opened a flea market in the space. About a year later, J.T.F. sublet about a tenth of the area to the Amish Market.

According to the lease between J.T.F. and the Amish Market — which was submitted to the court — the Amish vendors sublease 11,500 square feet. However, Cordish has contested the size of the Amish Market's sales area, saying it does not exceed the 6,000-square-foot limit stipulated in the Redner's lease agreement.

The trial, heard by U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg, has dragged on for nine months. Several settlement conferences were ordered so Redner's and Cordish could resolve the claims before the trial concluded, but none were fruitful.

In fact, the parties' allegations against one another snowballed as the trial progressed.

Information revealed during litigation about the operations of Redner's gas station led Cordish to allege that the grocery chain had violated its lease terms, thereby voiding its claims against Cordish about the Amish Market.

Cordish notified Redner's in February that it was terminating the grocer's lease because of Redner's gas station operation, according to Redner's trial attorney, John J. Miravich. If Cordish pursues the matter, Miravich said, the Joppa store's more than 100 employees could be thrown out of work.

Legg concluded the trial on Aug. 14 but has requested an additional briefing in mid-September. The parties will argue whether all claims related to J.T.F. and the Amish Market should be dismissed, according to an order from Legg.

The judge is not expected to rule until after the September hearing whether the lease's anti-competition provision should be enforced or whether all or some of the Amish Market vendors should be expelled from the plaza.

Representatives for Cordish and Redner's did not return calls seeking comment.

Meanwhile, business continues as usual at Joppatowne Plaza's Redner's and Amish Market.

"It's holding steady," said Steven Stoltzfoos of his operation, an Amish stall called the Dutch Pantry that sells candy and nuts. Stoltzfoos also has a small section of gluten-free products, which he called a "good hit" with patrons.

"We're always looking for more [customers], like any business," said Stoltzfoos, who commutes from Perry County, Pa., about a two-hour drive from the shopping center.

On a recent Friday, many of Stoltzfoos' customers were either coming from or heading to Redner's.

Said Barbara Bell, who called herself a regular at both Redner's and the Amish Market: "I think there's room for both."

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

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