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Casden Sues Firm for Malpractice

June 04, 2003|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

Beverly Hills developer Alan I. Casden is suing the attorneys who represented him in a losing court battle with former investors in a series of limited partnerships he ran.

Casden, in a lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, is accusing the defunct firm of Battle Fowler and 13 attorneys of malpractice and breach of conduct. He is seeking $100 million in damages.

Casden lost a $184-million jury verdict in favor of the former investors last year. Casden and his associates at Casden Properties Inc. were found to have violated federal securities laws and breached their fiduciary duties. A federal judge upheld the decision in April but reduced the damages to $120 million.

On Monday, Casden agreed to settle the lawsuit for $83 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission by Casden Properties' parent, Denver-based Apartment Investment & Management Co.

Casden was liable for those damages because Battle Fowler failed to competently perform legal services that included structuring transactions to create a real estate investment trust, his lawsuit says.

"We relied upon the law firm's advice at all times during the transaction as well as for preparation of all securities documents," said Casden spokeswoman Barbara Casey. "Therefore, we expect the law firm to be responsible for any errors or omissions in the securities documents."

Representatives of Battle Fowler couldn't be reached for comment. The firm was absorbed by Los Angeles-based Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker in 2000. The Los Angeles Daily Journal reported at the time that attorneys in Battle Fowler's Los Angeles office disbanded, and did not join Paul Hastings.

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