Santa Anita Awarded Disputed Land Parcel

(from White & Case press release)
Santa Anita Park has won a longstanding property dispute with neighboring Santa Anita Fashion Park stemming from the sale of the racetrack to Frank Stronach's Magna Entertainment Corporation in 1998.

The land in question, 2.36 acres of prime real estate, is considered an integral part of Santa Anita's plans to renovate the southern section of the racetrack parking lot for development of an upscale entertainment center.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon recently issued a written ruling in the case in favor of Santa Anita, which contended the parcel was mistakenly conveyed to the shopping center. The case was heard in September.

Meditrust Corporation owned both the racetrack, which it sold to Stronach for $126 million in December 1998, and the shopping center, which was purchased by Westfield Corporation two weeks later.

Santa Anita successfully argued that Meditrust supplied erroneous metes and bounds descriptions of the property, mistakenly excluding the acreage comprising the area around the "Gate 1" entrance. The land was included in the legal description of Westfield's acquisition. Santa Anita decided to sue in May 2002 seeking reformation of both grant deeds and to quiet title of the $3.5 million parcel. Alarcon ruled in Santa Anita's favor on both requests.

"We are extremely pleased with the Court's ruling and the recognition of Santa Anita's right to the property, particularly where our burden of proof was so high," said John Sturgeon, who represented Santa Anita for the Los Angeles office of White & Case.

Meditrust and Westfield contended that Meditrust had intended to exclude the parcel from the sale of the racetrack and include it in the sale of the Fashion Park.

The court heard 10 days of trial and considered extensive written closing arguments last fall. The ruling was issued on Feb. 6.

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