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Uniland suit against HealthNow dismissed Corporation filed $40 million claim

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has tossed out a suit filed by Uniland Development Corp. against HealthNow over its hiring a different firm to build a new corporate headquarters in downtown Buffalo.

The Rochester court was unanimous in its decision to grant HealthNow's motion to dismiss the $40 million claim against the parent company of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Western New York. The Amherst development company went to court claiming it had exclusive rights to develop the insurer's new headquarters based on language in a lease extension at its current home, at 1901 Main St., in Buffalo, where Uniland is the landlord.

"While the Uniland lawsuit never threatened our new headquarters project, we area very pleased that this matter is behind us," said BlueCross/BlueShield President and Chief Executive Alphonso O'Neil-White.

Uniland spokesman Tom Widzinski declined to comment on the court's ruling citing on-going litigation. Uniland has not filed papers requesting leave to appeal to the State Court of Appeals in the wake of Friday's lower court ruling on the breach-of-contract suit.

Uniland was among a group of would-be developers that vied for the high-profile development, but HealthNow chose Duke Realty Corp., of Indianapolis, to do the job.

O'Neil-White noted the $100 million headquarters project, under way at the former Buffalo Gasworks site on West Genesee Street, behind City Hall, is proceeding on schedule. Starting in April, the frame of the 450,000-square-foot complex will begin to take shape.

BlueCross/BlueShield's 1,300 Buffalo employers are slated to move into the new downtown complex in August 2007.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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