Western State College of Law files lawsuit calling for extended lease

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Western State College of Law has filed a lawsuit against Cal State Fullerton Auxiliary Services Corp. asking the court to extend Western’s lease until September 2016. Western filed the complaint on Nov. 7, 2014, nearly three months after alleged lease extension negotiations fell apart.

CSUF currently owns the building at 1111 North State College Blvd., which the university purchased from Western State College of Law in 2012. Western State signed the lease that allowed the college to occupy the building until September 2015.

CSUF Auxiliary Services Corp. is responsible for commercial operations on campus, educational grants and contracts for the university.

Western State alleges that in late June 2014 Auxiliary Services agreed to a one-year extension through e-mail negotiations between officials from both schools, according to documents within the legal complaint submitted by Western State College of Law.

On Dec. 15, 2014 CSUF Auxiliary Services filed a legal answer to the complaint.
In the answer, Auxiliary Services state that the “plaintiff unreasonably delayed in asserting the claims set forth in the complaint all to the detriment of defendant.”

Furthermore, the answer states that the the oral agreement is unenforceable in accordance with the original lease signed by both of parties.

The original lease reads that the lease can only be modified in writing and requires signatures from both parties when the change is made.

If the lease amendment went through, CSUF would be receiving about $123,290 monthly base rent for an annual total of more than $1,479,530 through Sep. 30, 2016, according to documents submitted to the court.

Western Law is paying CSUF a monthly base rent of more than $117,420 until the current lease expires Sept. 30, 2015.

Jim Alexander, director of property development for Auxiliary Services, acknowledged that there had been an informal agreement in an email to Joseph Marisco, director of corporate real estate for Education Management Corp., on June 24, 2014.

The Education Management Corporation manages Argosy University, which operates Western State College of Law.
“As we discussed on the phone today, we have agreed to extend the rental agreement for one additional year through Sept. 30, 2016,” Alexander wrote in the email.

Alexander intended to have the lease amended that day, he wrote, but would need to receive final confirmation from the university before proceeding.

There were further email exchanges between the two over the course of July 2014 regarding the possibility of a two-year extension.

Alexander wrote on July 30 they had approval for a one-year extension, but they needed the chancellor’s office to approve a two-year extension.

On Aug. 20, Argosy University System Chancellor Craig Swenson received an e-mail from Danny Kim, vice president of administration and finance for CSUF, that stated the university would be unable to extend the lease.

“Current lease expires in September 2015 and we were not able to extend it as initially thought due to circumstances that subsequently emerged,” Kim said in the email.

Swenson and Kim have not returned calls to comment on the issue.

The lease was never officially amended by either party, said CSUF Director of Media Relations Christopher Bugbee.
Fullerton has deemed it time to prepare the building for CSUF use and has tried to assist Western Law in finding another space for them to operate, a CSUF official said.

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