A filmmaker who alleges Nicolas Cage sold him a $3 million Venice home without disclosing water drainage problems -- and who overcame the actor's attempt to force arbitration of the dispute -- today was awarded $165,510 in attorneys' fees from the Oscar winner.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu found in favor of a trust set up for the family of Bradley Lindsley and said plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Scott's assertions he spent more than 365 hours fighting the Cage arbitration efforts at the trial level and in the 2nd District Court of Appeal were supported by his documentation.
"(Cage) failed to submit any evidence that the hours claimed by (Scott) are excessive and unreasonable," Treu wrote in his 2 1/2-page ruling granting the full amount requested by the plaintiff.
However, Cage's lawyer, Paul Sorrell, said he still doubted the hours claimed were accurate. He told the judge that if he was inclined to award fees, the amount should be substantially less that what was being sought.
On Feb. 21, a three-justice appellate panel issued a decision concurring with Scott's arguments that Lindsley was not bound by contract to arbitrate his dispute with Cage and could take his case to trial. In a 19-page opinion written by Justice Dennis Perluss, the panel criticized the "contradictory" arguments put forth by Cage's lawyers, which "simply reinforce our conclusion it was eminently reasonable for the court to conclude the entire case should be resolved in a single litigation."
Lindsley originally sued the developer, the Lee Group, then added Cage -- whose well-publicized real estate woes include sales of some of his other homes at drastically reduced prices -- as a defendant.
Cage 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.
Lindsley alleges that some time after Cage, now 48, moved into the home, the actor and his neighbor in the other Lee Group home had problems with flooding and informed the developers. However, when Lindsley bought the home 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.
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.