A judge Thursday lifted a stay in a lawsuit in which a filmmaker alleges Nicolas Cage sold him a $3 million Venice home without disclosing water drainage problems, but the trial will not take place for more than a year.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu scheduled trial of the suit, brought on behalf of producer Bradley Lindsley by a family trust, for July 22, 2013. The trust originally sued the developer, the Lee Group, in May 2009. It then added as a defendant Cage -- whose well-publicized real estate woes include sales of some of his other homes at drastically reduced prices -- as well as the actor's former business manager, Samuel Levin, and real estate adviser, Richard Nazarian.
The suit alleges fraud and negligent non-disclosure by Cage.
Numerous cross-complaints have developed out of the original complaint. Levin sued Cage in February 2011, contending the Oscar-winning actor is bound by an agreement to pay for his attorneys' fees and cover any financial losses that he may suffer if sued in connection with his role as a co-trustee of the Hancock Park Real Estate Trust, a legal mechanism through which Cage holds title to property.
Levin resigned from his co-trustee role three years ago and maintains Cage did not follow up on his obligations to him after Lindsley bought the home in the Venice area of Los Angeles from the actor nine years ago.
Nazarian, owner of The Nickel Co., also sued Cage as well as Levin. He wants both ordered to pay at least part of any judgment against him, as well as his attorneys' fees.
Cage, now 48, 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 against and on behalf of various sub-contractors who worked on the home.
Lindsley alleges 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. However, 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 suit.
In July 2010, Treu placed a hold on the exchange of information between the parties pending the outcome of Cage's appeal of the judge's orders denying motions to force the disputes with Lindsley as well as the Levin and Nazarian cross-complaints. A three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal upheld Treu on Feb. 21 and sent the case back to him for trial.
Lawyers in the case told Treu today they will go forward with depositions during the summer and then attempt to settle the case through mediation early next year.
However, Cage's lawyer, Paul Sorrell, objected to Cage being one of the first scheduled deponents. He said he was not sure his client will be available for his scheduled session in July. He also said it was logical to depose first those witnesses knowledgeable about the alleged defects in the home rather those who can talk about whether or not those problems were ever disclosed.
However, Treu, agreeing with attorneys for both Lindsley and the Lee Group, said it made more sense to have the disclosure-related depositions completed first.
Lindsley, who was among the producers of the 1997 film "Dogtown," says that five years after he bought the house, he hired engineers to look into conditions at the home and found the problems Cage allegedly did not disclose.