University News

Donors, UCLA Foundation removed from lawsuit challenging conference center project

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[Update: On Jan. 17, 2014, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Thomas I. McKnew Jr. also dismissed the Luskins and the UCLA Foundation from a separate lawsuit by Save Westwood Village that challenges the project's compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and ordered the plaintiffs to reimburse them for attorneys' fees, estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. The ruling does not change UC Regents status as a defendant in the case.]
 
A state court judge on Oct. 1 dismissed two key donors and the UCLA Foundation, which manages contributions to the university, from a lawsuit challenging how the university collects certain taxes at its guest facilities, including the planned Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference and Guest Center.
 
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant granted a defense motion to remove the Luskins and the foundation from the lawsuit and further ordered the plaintiffs, Save Westwood Village, to reimburse all of their attorneys’ fees, estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. The UC Regents remain a defendant in the case.
 
Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs Kevin Reed said it was "shameful" that generous donors like the Luskins were ever named in the lawsuit and it is appropriate that they be reimbursed for legal costs. Part of their most recent $100 million gift is being used, in part, to build the conference center. A similar motion will be filed to remove the Luskins and the foundation from a separate lawsuit by Save Westwood Village challenging the project’s Environmental Impact Report.
 
UCLA remains confident that all university facilities are in full compliance with all local, state and federal laws and fully expects to prevail in both cases. Guests seeking to stay at all UCLA-operated facilities – including the UCLA Guest House, Tiverton House and the planned conference center – must have an appropriate affiliation with the university in order to book a room. As such, these facilities do not and will not compete with local hotels for tourists and are not subject to certain taxes. The project is fully compliant with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and all applicable laws and requirements, including public input.
 
The university broke ground on the conference center last month following unanimous approval by the UC Board of Regents, which performed an exhaustive review of the project. The project will directly support UCLA’s academic mission, allowing the university to host important academic conferences and also satisfy a long-standing need for additional guest rooms on campus. An opening is expected in 2016.
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