Former CA Ventures exec sues for $6M

Chicago-based multifamily giant hit with more litigation from another ex-employee

Former CA Ventures Executive Nishant Bakaya Sues for $6M
CA Ventures' Tom Scott; Up Campus Properties' Nishant Bakaya (Getty, Linkedin, CA Ventures)

Another former executive for CA Ventures is going after the Chicago-based multifamily firm in court, this time for more than $6 million he says he’s owed.

Nishant Bakaya, who was the chief investment officer for CA Ventures from 2017 through August 2021, sued his former employer in Cook County court last week, alleging it owes him under agreements he made with the firm when he exited his position.

Tom Scott, founder and CEO of CA Ventures, said there is an agreement in place to pay off the firm’s debt to Bakaya, who left the firm and started his own student housing company, Chicago-based Up Campus Properties.

Bakaya’s payment from CA Ventures was supposed to be distributed monthly in $150,000 increments, according to people familiar with the matter. Sometime in the past year, though, CA Ventures missed a payment. It then entered a forbearance and cured the delinquency. But Bakaya filed suit after another alleged late payment.

The litigation from yet another former executive comes at a delicate time for CA Ventures. Former chief operating officer J.J. Smith sued various CA Ventures affiliates over money he says he’s owed by the firm.

CA Ventures also is working through multiple delinquencies and red flags on debts owed to investors as well as mortgage lenders who issued loans against its real estate. It faces separate lawsuits tied to an office building in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.

CA Ventures wanted to make its global headquarters at the building, at 448 North LaSalle Street, before the pandemic. It later decided against moving into its 70,000-square-foot lease. The building has remained mostly unoccupied, sparking multiple eviction lawsuits. Canadian investment firm QuadReal, which partnered in a student housing portfolio with CA Ventures, also sued the firm last year.

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Attorneys for Bakaya and Scott declined to comment.

Bakaya was in charge of raising funds from institutional investors to inject into CA Ventures’ various lines of business, which included the development of student housing, senior housing, standard multifamily properties and other asset classes, such as industrial properties.

He claims CA Ventures agreed to pay him cash in exchange for equity shares he held in the company’s various investment platforms.

CA Ventures last week filed motions to dismiss the case, claiming that a confession of judgment that it entered with Bakaya during his forbearance of the firm’s debt is invalid; a confession of judgment is a legal mechanism that prevents a litigant from disputing that it owes a counterparty money in court.

CA Ventures, which claims to have $10 billion in real estate across the globe, is also seeking to force one of Bakaya’s attorneys, William J. Dorsey of law firm Blank Rome, off the case, claiming that it would be improper for him to represent Bakaya because the lawyer also signed the confession of judgment document.

Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel P. Duffy set a hearing for Monday. That hearing will be overseen by another judge, after CA Ventures won a motion for a substitution of judge; defendants are normally given an automatic chance to request one judicial substitution early on in a case.

The judge will have to rule on CA Ventures’ arguments claiming the confession of judgment is invalid, as well as the claim regarding Dorsey’s representation of Bakaya.

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