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LOS ANGELES, CA-A federal court jury here has awarded $184 million in damages to investors who claim they were misled into selling their interests in real estate partnerships established by apartment developer Alan Casden and National Partnership Investment Corp. (NAPICO), the corporate managing general partner for the partnerships.

The suit claimed “violations of federal securities laws and breaches of fiduciary duties,” according to attorneys Lawrence A. Sucharow of Goodkind Labaton Rudoff & Sucharow in New York and Nicholas E. Chimicles of Chimicles & Tikellis in Haverford, Pa.

According to the attorneys, the defendants solicited the investors’ votes in August 1998 to approve the sale of the real estate partnerships to a new real estate investment trust formed by Casden. That trust later sold its holdings to AIMCO, the Denver-based REIT. The jury found that, in soliciting the investors’ votes, the defendants violated federal proxy laws by issuing false solicitation statements.

Casden, one of the region’s largest apartment developers, issued a statement through a spokeswoman, Barbara Casey, saying that he will appeal the jury award. It called the award “excessive and inappropriate,” and said that more than 12,000 of the limited partners voted in favor of the transaction, with less than 5% voting no.

Casden built one of Southern California’s largest apartment portfolios before selling it last year to AIMCO. The 90,000-unit portfolio was merged into AIMCO last year in a deal valued at $1.95 billion.

Besides Casden and NAPICO, defendants in the suit include Henry C. Casden, Bruce Nelson and Charles Boxenbaum, who were officers or directors of NAPICO at the time of the REIT transaction.

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