By City News Service
A judge Monday took under submission a lawsuit alleging that Mario Van Peebles, a homeowners association and a real estate company are all liable in a lawsuit involving the sale of the actor's Playa del Rey condominium, whose buyer says he discovered mold and a flooring defect.
Adel Bebawy filed suit in March 2009, alleging that after he acquired Van Peebles' waterfront condominium in 2007 for $1.37 million, he discovered the floor had a severe slope and that there was significant mold in a bathroom.
In his closing argument Friday in a non-jury trial before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield, plaintiff's attorney Darren McBratney said his client cannot sell the property because of the defects and that he should be able to rescind the contract with Van Peebles.
"It's nothing more than a pig that has lipstick on it," McBratney said.
But the 56-year-old actor's attorney, Eric Meller, said today that Van Peebles did not intend to deceive Bebawy when filling out the seller disclosure material. He also said Bebawy brought the "Damages" co-star into the litigation after he could not get satisfaction from the Waterfront Homeowners Association.
Bebawy refused to accept responsibility for his own mistakes, Meller said.
"Mr. Bebawy said he was not only going to blame everyone else, but that he was going to ruin the lives of anyone he blamed," Meller said.
Also denying any wrongdoing by their clients were Martin Deniston, an attorney for Coldwell Banker and Van Peebles' listing broker, Debra Berman, as well as lawyer Barry Reagan, who represents the homeowners association.
They have said that Bebawy, an attorney, is wrong when he claims the entire building is structurally unsound.
According to McBratney, the actor's mother, Maria Marx, initially said in a declaration that she and her son knew about the problems with the floor, but changed her story during her deposition a month later.
According to McBratney, Marx said: "Oh, I'm in so much trouble for talking to you, I just want to die. Why did you ever involve me in this?"
Marx maintained in the deposition that the only problems she was aware of with the floor were cracks caused by a heavy table and by her son dropping a weight.
Van Peebles' daughter, Maya Van Peebles, also changed her story after giving a sworn declaration confirming portions of the unit's floors were uneven, McBratney said.
But Meller said the references to Marx and Maya Van Peebles shows the plaintiff's case is built largely on "two smidgens of evidence" involving the statements of an elderly woman who never had a chance to read her declaration before signing it and a girl who was 16 at the time and was trying to protect her father.
McBrantey said the judge may have a ruling in 30 to 40 days.
Van Peebles watched today's proceedings from a seat in the audience. He attended most of the trial that began with testimony July 17, but which also has included breaks of several days to accommodate the parties.