Steven Malitz - Real Estate and Condominium Litigation Victories
- Obtained Cancelation of Real Estate Contract Due to Developer Fraud. Malitz represented a group of real estate investors in a contract and fraud suit with a large Chicago developer building a two-tower residential community in Las Vegas. In reliance on marketing materials and oral assurances, the clients contracted to purchase investment condominiums in the first tower at what was represented to be a significantly lower price than the units in Tower II. Upon receiving notices two years later to close—and after the deadline passed to terminate the purchase contracts—the clients learned the second tower would not be constructed and the land had been sold for a condotel, restaurant and casino. Knowing this would significantly reduce the value of their investment, the clients sought Malitz’ assistance in terminating the real estate contracts. However, the contracts plainly read that pre-contract promises from the developer were not part of the contract; the clients were purchasing one unit in only one tower; the developer had the right to build or not build at its whim; and if our clients refused to close, they would forfeit their earnest money and lose the right to purchase. Faced with a threat by Malitz to bring a class action suit for fraud, the developer agreed to terminate the clients’ real estate contracts and refund their earnest money. In obtaining this result, the clients avoided purchasing condominium units that had drastically fallen in value, and paying large mortgages, taxes, and assessments on what turned out to be poor investments.
- Enforced Rights of Purchaser to Farm and Ejected Seller. Malitz represented the purchaser of a farm in a dispute with the distressed seller, whose family had owned the farm for many years. After purchasing the farm through other counsel, the seller refused to vacate the farm, and Malitz was retained to evict the seller. The seller, who found a new purchaser who would pay a larger sum for the farm, fought the eviction claiming both he and purchaser were represented by the same attorney in the real estate transaction, without disclosure and consent, requiring rescission of the sale of the farm. When his client’s ownership of the farm was challenged by the seller, Malitz successfully tendered the matter to the title insurer. After extensive discovery (and disciplinary proceedings against the attorney who allegedly acted as an undisclosed dual agent for both seller and buyer), Malitz persuaded the title insurer to pay the seller additional sums so he would drop his claim that the sale should be canceled. Malitz’s purchaser-client therefore retained the farm and realized his investment through development of the property for the sale of single-family homes.
- Obtained Injunction Preventing Seller from Unjustifiably Terminating Deal. Malitz represented a purchaser in a multi-million dollar commercial real estate transaction against the seller who attempted to nullify the contract for the secret purpose of selling to another buyer waiting in the wings. To justify the termination, seller claimed Malitz’s purchaser-client failed to comply with the contract by depositing earnest money in an escrow account controllable by seller. Malitz obtained a temporary restraining order and an extension of that order, preventing the seller from terminating the contract or selling to another party. Both the temporary restraining order and the order extending it were affirmed on two separate appeals. The matter subsequently settled with the client consummating his purchase of the property.
- Forced Developer to Repurchase Defective Mansion. Malitz represented the purchasers of a fully-rehabbed Victorian mansion in a fraud suit with the developer. After closing, the clients discovered numerous structural defects in their new home. Malitz sued to rescind the purchase, or, alternatively, for money damages. Despite contending the home was essentially defect-free, Malitz forced the builder to repurchase the house for the purchase price plus a premium for appreciation. The builder further agreed that if it did not timely repurchase the property, judgment would be entered against the builder and its principals for a significant sum to correct the construction defects. When the builder failed to repurchase the property, Malitz sought judgment, forcing the builder to pay the clients the substantial sum to repair the property.
- Expelled Lewd and Violent Unit Owner from Condominium. Malitz represented a condominium association in an injunction action against a unit owner who was caught performing indecent acts in the condominium and then fought with the condominium board president. Malitz persuaded the court to enter an injunction confining defendant to his condominium, which forced him to move from the building. On the eve of the closing, Malitz then successfully opposed the unit owner’s motion for temporary restraining order requesting the condominium issue a paid assessment letter and nullify a special assessment levied on defendant’s unit for attorneys’ fees incurred in bringing the injunction action. The wrongdoer unit owner was forced out of the building and was required to pay all fees in connection with his expulsion.
- Trial Victory Against Unit Owner for Slander of Title. Malitz represented a condominium association in trial against a unit owner who unjustifiably recorded a 57-page handwritten document, entitled “Health Hazard”, against title to all 367 units in the condominium. The recording of this document killed condominium sales and refinances. In a matter of first impression, Malitz persuaded the court to order the DuPage County Recorder of Deeds to permanently expunge the document from the public record, and after trial, obtained sizable compensatory and punitive damages against the unit owner who recorded the document.