Follow the Road to Ownership

Yellow brick lawsuit

Almost fifty years after a dress was gifted to a priest at The Catholic University of America, a relative is challenging the determined ownership of the costume. The significance of the blue and white gingham dress and paired white blouse is legendary. Judy Garland’s acquired costume in the iconic Wizard of Oz is one of four total dresses and one of two dresses with the matching blouse known to still be in existence. Actress Mercedes McCambridge, who died in 2004, gave the costume to Rev. Gilbert Hartke in 1973 as a ‘thank you’ for helping her through her substance use issues. Now, the priest’s niece, Barbara Hartke, contends that the dress belongs to her, as the heir of her uncle’s estate. Read more

Mold Covered Mansion

Property dispute

Although Megan Fox acknowledges that she failed to read prior reports and documentation about the state of the property, she agreed to move forward with the purchase of a $3.3 million Malibu mansion, once owned by Brad Pitt’s manager, Cynthia Pett-Dante. Among the claims addressed in Fox’s $5 million lawsuit against Pett-Dante, the actress focuses on mold and septic issues, as well as an illegal animal structure on the property. Fox stated that her main concern with the home was the presence of mold, which triggered chronic headaches and stress-related complications. The cost of fixing the stated issues was estimated at $500,000. Read more

Bedrock Burden Ends

Colorful house crisis

In a town 25 miles south of San Francisco, CA, a home sits as a page out of history. The Hillsborough homeowner, Florence Fang, has settled a lawsuit that was initiated in 2019. Following the issuance of three “stop-work” orders, the town of Hillsborough filed a claim against Fang, alleging that she needed work permits to continue the construction of various Flintstones memorabilia and statues on her property. In response to the lawsuit, Fang filed a counterclaim that accused the town of engaging in discriminatory demands and practices. Although both parties reach a friendly and agreeable resolution in April 2021, a gag order prevented the release of the information pertaining to the case details. Read more

California Property Owner Wins $24 Million Settlement in Development Case

Real property

The Los Angeles Business Journal reports that a Monrovia city property owner has settled a lawsuit with the state government’s Gold Line Construction Authority.  Gold Line was planning to build a maintenance yard for public transportation vehicles during an expansion of light-rail service.  This yard was to be placed on property that George Brokate of Monrovia owned.  Brokate was originally offered $5.6 million by the company, but filed suit to claim more when he realized a similar property owned by the city of Monrovia was given $57 million.  Gold Line insisted the discrepancy was due to a distinction between publicly- and privately-owned land.  Ultimately, Brokate and Gold Line reached a settlement of $24 million, nearly four times the original offer, to cede the property to the state of California.

“Holding out for more” is sometimes a good strategy when dealing with property transactions, especially when the government is involved.  Brokate had in his possession property that was described as “critical” to the expansion plans.  If you ever come to a business deal involving land or property, be sure to know not only how much it is potentially worth, but also how much money similar property has gone for in the past.  Such research definitely helped Mr. Brokate get the big bucks in this settlement.