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Kushner firm to return tenant lawsuit to Baltimore court to keep investors' identities secret

Doug Donovan, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE -- Rather than reveal its investors' identities by Friday as ordered by a federal judge, the apartment company owned by Jared Kushner intends to transfer a tenants' lawsuit against it back to the Baltimore court where it was first filed, according to federal court filings.

The company "respectfully requests that this Court remand this matter to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City," states a filing submitted Friday by Baltimore attorney Michael E. Blumenfeld.

The company owned by Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, had moved the case from Baltimore circuit court to U.S. District Court in Maryland because it claimed all of the firm's investors, including him and his parents, reside outside the state.

But federal rules require parties to file proof of such out-of-state residency. The company, Westminster Management, asked the federal judge to shield most of those disclosures from public view because it claimed the case had generated unfair media coverage.

"Given the tenor of the media's reporting of this case, including politically motivated innuendo no doubt intended to disparage the First Family, there is foreseeable risk of prejudice to the privacy rights and reputations of innocent private investors," Westminster Management wrote in court papers.

The tenants opposed the attempt to conceal investors' identities and were supported in their effort by lawyers from various media companies including The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, ProPublica, WMAR-TV and The Associated Press.

 

Judge James K. Bredar ruled late last month that Westminster cannot seal the court records from public view and gave the company until Friday to file the identifying information.

"Under the common law, there is a presumption that the public has access to all judicial records, and in this instance the Defendants have failed to overcome that presumption," Bredar wrote.

Westminster said in a court filing that four of its members reside in other states: Kushner, "a resident of New York, New York, and Washington, D.C."; his parents, Charles and Seryl Kushner of New York; and Westminster MGT GP Corp. of New York. In a separate filing, Westminster said Jared Kushner and his brother, Josh, are members of another corporate entity, JK2 Westminster, and that all are based in New York. Another entity, Carroll Park Holdings LLC, has one member, Delaware-based Middle River JV LLC.

A spokeswoman for Kushner Cos. could not immediately be reached for comment.

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