Westminster Management, a division of Kushner Companies by son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, asked a federal judge to sent a lawsuit against the company to state court to avoid judges requirement to reveal investors, The Baltimore Sun reported Friday.
The lawsuit was filed by tenants who claimed Westminster charged improper fees and threatened eviction to collect from the beleaguered tenants of “Kushnerville.”
Judge Bredar ruled last month that Westminster would need to reveal investors by today, in response to an attempt by Kushner’s legal team to move the lawsuit to federal court while hiding the identities of investors.
Attorneys for The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, ProPublica, WMAR-TV and the Associated Press opposed the attempt to conceal investors’ identities.
Kushner Companies manages almost 9,000 units at fifteen apartment complexes in the Baltimore area.
Baltimore attorney Michael E. Blumenfeld, defending Kushner’s company, filed a motion with federal Judge James K. Bredar that “respectfully requests that this Court remand this matter to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.”
“We’re disappointed that Westminster has wasted the last three months by removing the case, filing multiple motions and then choosing to withdraw the removal rather than reveal its investors,” said Matthew Hill, an attorney for Public Justice Center who is on the team representing tenants.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh opened an investigation into Westminster Management in October.
When the class-action lawsuit was filed, an attorney for the victims explained the stakes.
“Adding small but improper fees to the rent of tenants living paycheck to paycheck, then misallocating rent payments to those fees in order to generate more fees, is a scheme that preys on working-class tenants,” said Andrew D. Freeman of Brown, Goldstein & Levy. “Westminster Management’s misuse of Maryland courts’ eviction proceedings to force tenants to pay these improper fees makes this scheme all the more deplorable. It must be stopped.”