Charleston School of Law files lawsuit against city

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Charleston School of Law on Friday announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the City of Charleston, claiming the city has breached a contract pertaining to the land title for the property on which the school sits.

According to the Charleston Law School, the school and the city entered into an agreement in 2017 to “modify a contract that would remove a ‘reverter clause’ from the title of the property located at the corner of Meeting and Woolfe Street in Charleston and allow the Charleston School of Law to sell the property.”

In 2018, Charleston School of Law entered into a contract to sell the property to OmShera Hotel Group, LLC for $12.85 million, with the city set to receive 25% of the net purchase price. The lawsuit states that the City of Charleston was made aware of and approved the contract before the law school closed on the sale.

To date, OmShera has already paid $700,000.00 in nonrefundable earnest money funds to be credited towards this purchase price, 25% (or $166,250.00) of which has already been paid to and accepted by the City of Charleston.

J. Edward Bell III, President of Charleston School of Law, said that the city stands to gain millions from the sale, $3 million of which is designated to be used for affordable housing.

“Everyone wins if the sale of this lot goes forward. The City will gain millions to cover its budget shortfall this coming year, which will assist in funding affordable housing. Residents will benefit from the development of Meeting Street, [and] jobs and tax revenues will be added.”

The rest of the funds were going to be used by the law school “to pursue its desire to become a nonprofit entity.”

However, the City of Charleston is now refusing to file the official documents needed to allow the sale to be finalized, according to the lawsuit, “apparently because some of Defendant City’s Council Members believe Defendant City should have negotiated a better deal with [Charleston School of Law] in 2017.” The suit claims the city is using its position “as leverage to extract additional financial concessions from [Charleston School of Law] and to renegotiate the City’s contracts with [Charleston School of Law].”

The lawsuit claims that the city “failed to respond to multiple written requests and deadlines in recent months.” Bell calls the city’s actions “a textbook case of breach of contract.”

The City of Charleston said that it cannot comment on pending litigation, but intends “to defend the matter vigorously.”

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