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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

Two tenants filed the action in Baltimore Circuit Court in late September alleging that Westminster Management has been charging improper fees and threatening eviction to force payment. They also allege that the company has violated the Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act by using collection tactics they say are meant to "abuse or harass" them.

The tenants -- Tenae Smith, who lives in the Dutch Village apartments in Northeast Baltimore, and Howard Smith, who lives in the Carroll Park apartments in Middle River -- are seeking damages in excess of $75,000 and attorneys fees.

Tenae Smith is challenging a lease she has held since 2009; Howard Smith's lease dates to September 2014.

Westminster Management stated in an earlier, unsuccessful motion to dismiss the case that the claims are "barred by Maryland's three-year statute of limitations." The motion also stated that the tenants failed to present enough facts to claim Westminster has violated the state's real property article, debt collection act and consumer protection act.

Matthew Hill, an attorney for Public Justice Center who is one of the lawyers representing the tenants, said the legal maneuvers have been frustrating.

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"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," Hill said.

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