By City News Service
A judge today tossed out fraud and negligent non-disclosure claims against Nicolas Cage and a general contractor, who were named in a home-defect lawsuit involving a Venice property the Oscar-winning actor sold.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu said in his final ruling that lawyers for the plaintiffs waited too long to add Cage and Richard Nazarian as parties to the case. The judge issued a tentative ruling Friday in favor of the actor and his longtime handyman, then affirmed the ruling after hearing arguments today.
The suit filed in May 2009 on behalf of filmmaker Bradley Lindsley by his family trust alleged Cage sold him a $3 million home without disclosing that it had water drainage problems. Lindsley also goes by the name Bradford
“We're very pleased that the court would understand our position,” Cage's attorney, Paul Sorrell, said after the hearing. “This was a meritless lawsuit from the beginning and we intend to seek substantial legal fees from the plaintiff.”
Lawyer Lawrence Ecoff, on behalf of Nazarian, said he also was gratified with the ruling. He said the plaintiff's attorney, Mark Scott, never presented a declaration or any other evidence establishing when they learned that moisture problems within the home were allegedly caused by wrongdoing rather than by the fact the home was next to the ocean.
The Lindsley family trust originally sued the developer, the Lee Group, in May 2009. It later added Cage as a defendant, as well as his former business manager, Samuel Levin and Nazarian.
The suit alleged the Leaving Las Vegas star, Levin and Nazarian did not reveal the water drainage problems. But Sorrell and Ecoff, in separate motions to dismiss the claims against their clients, said the plaintiffs knew of moisture problems with the home by 2004 and had three years to sue the actor and the general contractor.
Cage, 49, bought one of two single-family homes the Lee Group built adjacent to each other on Ocean Front Walk in November 2002, according to the complaint.
Other cross-complaints have been filed for and against various sub- contractors who worked on the home. Cage remains part of the case on indemnity claims only, but Sorrell said he expects those issues to be resolved in his client's favor as well. Today's ruling completely removes Nazarian from the case.
Lindsley alleged that some time after Cage moved into the home, the actor and his neighbor in the other Lee Group residence had problems with flooding and informed the developers.
But when Lindsley bought the house from Cage in May 2003, the actor did not tell him about the defects, according to the complaint.
When another man expressed interest in the property before Lindsley did and found out about the drainage problems, he canceled escrow, according to the