Law Firm Sues Army for Housing Records

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Munger Tolles & Olson law firm sued the Army for refusing to produce records of plans for four military housing projects.
     The Los Angeles-based law firm sued on behalf of nonparty American Management Services dba Pinnacle of Seattle.
     Pinnacle filed a related complaint against a joint venture partner in November 2011, in Santa Clara County Court. That underlying complaint involved rights to own, develop and manage "several large privatized housing projects at United States military installations."
     Munger Tolles & Olson says in the new lawsuit that it requested records on the military housing projects a year ago.
     "A year has passed since plaintiff requested these records and the Army has failed to produce any documents at all relating to three of the four housing projects at issue," the lawsuit states. "In total, out of the hundreds (if not thousands) of documents at issue, the Army has produced just one heavily redacted document relating to one housing project.
     "The Army has refused to deny plaintiff s request outright, assert any grounds on which the requested records could be withheld, or respond to plaintiff's administrative appeal, and has otherwise failed to meet its obligations under FOIA."
     In the underlying case, Pinnacle and original defendant Clark Realty of Arlington, Va. entered a joint venture to manage the four family housing projects in Presidio of Monterey Naval Postgraduate School in California, Fort Irwin, Moffett and Parks in California, Fort Belvoir in Virginia, and Fort Benning in Georgia.
     Under terms of the join venture, Clark and Pinnacle agreed to a 70/30 split, according to the new lawsuit. But The law office claims that Clark has "instigated a scorched-earth litigation campaign" to exclude Pinnacle from the joint venture.
     Munger Tolles & Olson firm claims that in a bid to reduce its financial commitment to the projects, Clark, with Army approval, modified plans for three of the developments, reducing its budgets for three of the four projects by hundreds of millions of dollars.
     Diverting that much cash away from the developments has come at the expense of the soldiers and their families, who will have to do without community centers and other amenities, Munger Tolles & Olson claim.
     After it altered the plans, Clark "hired a team of high-priced litigation and accounting professionals" to oust Pinnacle from its management function, the lawsuit claims.
     Munger Tolles & Olson claims that Clark has spent more than $30 million on the litigation.
     "For its part, the Army has failed or simply refused to rein in Clark's campaign to use the housing projects as its own ATM. Instead, the Army has enabled - if not facilitated - Clark's efforts to reduce its development obligations and run roughshod over Pinnacle's rights as a partner both of Clark and of the Army," the complaint states.
     Munger Tolles & Olson claims the Army has stiff-armed its requests to see documents related to Clark's request to modify the development plans.
     "Instead, the Army - whose response has likely been co-opted by an outsider with its own litigation and financial objective - has dragged plaintiff through an administrative labyrinth," the lawsuit says. "The Army has referred plaintiff to no less than five separate departments, each of which has disclaimed any responsibility for plaintiffs' request, or has otherwise refused to provide any responsive information."
     In its November 2011 lawsuit against Clark, Pinnacle claims that Clark caused owner entities of the projects to sue Pinnacle in May 2010, in Muscogee County, Ga.