Lawsuit update: A total smackdown for Conquest Student Housing and its attempts to "monopolize student housing by stifling competition in the area." A settlement reached today permanently prohibits Conquest Student Housing from interfering with housing projects near USC. Last fall, a lawsuit was filed against Conquest by USC and developer Urban Partners. We've got the USC-issued press release, but awaiting to see how Conquest spins it.
Conquest Student Housing Permanently Prohibited from Interfering with Housing Projects Near USC
Long Delayed University Gateway Projects to Proceed
Los Angeles, Calif. (January 25, 2008) – Conquest Student Housing, LLC
and its principals are prohibited from challenging and interfering
with any current or future University of Southern California (USC)
development project, any Urban Partners project and any student
housing project undertaken by private developers within two miles of
USC's University Park campus, as a result of a stipulated permanent
injunction entered into the United States District Court for the
Central District of California. The permanent injunction is part of a
legal settlement between Conquest, USC and Urban Partners, the
developer of a proposed mixed-use student housing development for USC
The settlement follows a ruling last month by the United States
District Court, which rejected Conquest's motion to dismiss a lawsuit
filed by USC and Urban Partners alleging a lengthy campaign by
Conquest to monopolize the student housing market around USC by
attacking competing development projects, including Urban Partners'
University Gateway Project. The U.S. District Court refused to
dismiss the lawsuit on First Amendment and other grounds.
"Today's settlement allows USC to focus on meeting the housing needs
of our students without fear of vexatious litigation designed to
monopolize the student housing market around campus," said Michael L.
Jackson, Vice President of Student Affairs for USC. "We eagerly
anticipate the opening of the University Gateway project, and the
vitally needed housing it will provide to more than 1,600 USC
students. We hope to see expanded interest in developing additional
student housing now that the threat of interference and litigation
from Conquest is gone."
The permanent injunction entered by the Court on January 23, 2008 was
stipulated and agreed upon by all parties in the case -- including
Conquest and its principals -- as part of the parties' settlement of
the Federal Court lawsuit and related claims. Because the permanent
injunction was entered with the Court, the Court will retain
jurisdiction over the case and can impose sanctions on Conquest or its
principals if they violate the terms of the injunction.
In addition, as a result of the settlement, Conquest is required to
take action to immediately dismiss nine lawsuits that Conquest
initiated involving current or former Urban Partners projects,
including University Gateway. The injunction paves the way for
University Gateway to move forward, with groundbreaking expected this
"Urban Partners is elated by the permanent injunction entered by the
United States District Court against Conquest and its related
entities. It puts behind us years of baseless, costly litigation
initiated by Conquest, and allows us to immediately refocus our energy
and attention on the University Gateway Project as well as our other
projects that have been obstructed by Conquest's actions," said
Matthew Burton, a Principal of Urban Partners. "The University
Gateway Project was designed with the community in mind and will be a
cornerstone in the redevelopment and revitalization efforts along the
corridors of Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa Street."
USC and Urban Partners originally filed the lawsuit on September 4,
2007 in U.S. District Court, Central District of California.
According to the lawsuit, Conquest violated the Racketeer Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Sherman Act, the California
Unfair Competition laws, and other state and federal laws.
"The resolution of this case stands for the proposition that
anti-competitive, commercial use or other abusive use of environmental
and land-use laws is actionable under both federal and state law and
is not a protected right," said Howard Stahl and Karl Tilleman,
partners at Steptoe and Johnson, LLP, which represented USC and Urban
Partners in the lawsuit. "If a developer uses such laws to engage in
racketeering or monopolistic activities, or other potentially unlawful
conduct, there is a remedy," Stahl and Tilleman said.
The University Gateway Project, which was delayed more than two years
by Conquest's conduct, is scheduled to break ground in June 2008.
About Urban Partners LLC
Urban Partners is a real estate investment, development planning and
management firm. The company pursues select market niches where
complexity or innovation creates exceptional potential for its
partners and clients. Urban Partners' business model is focused on
equity-based investing and development. Urban will also provide fee
development services in certain instances. Current equity projects
include residential and mixed-use developments in urban core and high
population growth areas of the western United States and major land
development projects requiring detailed planning and entitlement
strategies. Urban Partners' projects and services include land
development, mixed-use development, apartment and condominium homes,
transit-oriented development, student housing, financial
restructurings, built-to-suit development and the adaptive reuse of
The company was founded in 2000 by Paul Keller, Dan Rosenfeld and the
late Ira Yellin. Matthew Burton and John Hrovat became Principals of
the firm in 2005 and 2006, respectively.
About the University of Southern California
Founded in 1880, USC is the oldest private research university in the
western United States. USC annually enrolls more than 33,000 students
in exceptional degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and
doctoral levels. USC's 3,200 full-time faculty provide instruction in
more than 77 undergraduate majors and 139 graduate degrees, and
conduct world-class research in every area of scholarly inquiry. USC
is a global university, hosting the largest number of international
students in the U.S. and enjoying an extensive network of programs in
the Pacific Rim and around the world. Under the leadership of the
institution's 10th president, Steven B. Sample, USC has become
world-renowned in the fields of communication and multimedia
technologies as well as in cross-disciplinary teaching and research,
has received national acclaim for its innovative community outreach
programs and has solidified its status as one of the leading research
universities in the United States. USC is the largest private
employer in Los Angeles, annually stimulating $4 billion in economic
activity in Los Angeles County.
About the University Gateway Project
The eight-story University Gateway Project will be home to more than
1,600 students and will provide more than 11,000 square feet of
student service facilities, including computer rooms, laundry
facilities and exercise rooms. The 421-unit project will also contain
83,000 square feet of neighborhood-oriented retail, including a
bookstore and restaurant. The University Gateway Project is designed
to help increase the limited supply of student housing near USC and
enjoys widespread support in the surrounding communities from a
diverse roster of community groups and civic and elected leaders.
The project will be built entirely with private money and uses no