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One Million Dollar Real Estate Claim Rejected in Favor of Defense

Named partner Fredric W. Trester and associate Hila Golchet recently notched a full defense victory in a contentious real property suit where plaintiff was seeking more than one million dollars in damages after purchasing a single family waterfront residence in Huntington Beach that he claimed had a defective seawall. Plaintiff's Complaint included the backstory that the former property owners had received and ignored a warning about the seawall from an engineering firm in 1997, recommending an underwater inspection to make sure that the wooden pilings were not being eaten by oxygen-breathing sea worms; an imminent risk to the property. Plaintiff contended that when the property was sold in 2004, another engineering firm performed an actual inspection on the seawall area, and determined that issues included unevenly poured concrete, deteriorated piles, and weep holes that could "impact the buildup of hydrostatic pressure." In 2009, the same firm reportedly submitted a proposal to the City's Planning Division for slope protection, which was approved in concept. The property owner later consulted with another engineering firm for an alternative repair plan. The plaintiff asserted that the property owners actively pursued repair permits from 2004 to 2012, and sold the property to the plaintiff without accurately or adequately disclosing the condition of the seawall.

The real estate agency handling the sale acted in a dual capacity, representing both seller and buyer. The plaintiff purported that because the true condition of the seawall was deliberately concealed, he overpaid substantially for the property. Plaintiff sued the real estate agency and the seller. The seller and the seller's agent were dismissed from the case, leaving the buyer's agent to defend a one million dollar demand for alleged breach of fiduciary duties and being negligent by telling him that the seawall was in good condition when (he claimed) it wasn’t.

Mr. Trester and Ms. Golchet obtained expert testimony, showing that there was nothing wrong with the seawall, that the buyer had been counseled to have an inspection performed, and that the inspection performed was adequate. The jury found the facts presented by the Manning & Kass team more credible than the plaintiff's assertions, and the plaintiff collects nothing from the defense.

The Manning & Kass Real Estate Team represents the full spectrum of real estate professionals—including appraisers, brokers, loan brokers, contractors,  developers, escrow companies, home inspectors, and title companies—in litigation and transactions. The Real Estate Team is led by Fredric "Fred" W. Trester, who has served as co-chair of the State Bar Committee on Real Estate Brokerage and Sales Transactions, was nominated as Real Property Attorney of the Year in 2012, and is a member of the California Association of REALTORS® (CAR) Legal Affairs Forum and the CAR Strategic Defense Counsel Panel. Mr. Trester has tried numerous cases to verdict or judgment with a greater than 90 percent success rate.

Ms. Golchet holds a certified real estate brokers license, and has previously worked as a political consultant who advocated for the Beverly Hilton Revitalization Project.

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