Appellate Cases - Real Property

Mr. Adelstein has handled several appeals involving real property or real estate issues.

Sullivan v. Sherlock

Mr. Adelstein's two clients bought a house in the Studio City hills, remodelled it, and then sold it to a buyer. After the sale, the buyer complained about many aspects of the house, and eventually sued the sellers for fraud and other claims. He alleged that the house was in danger of falling down the hill, they knew about this but failed to disclose relevent information during the sale. This was simply wrong. The house was not in danger of falling down the hill, and the plaintiff's expert had incorrectly assumed that the sellers had added weight during the remodel. In fact, they removed weight. The plaintiff's credibility was impeached, and the jury returned a verdict for the sellers. The buyer then appealed, arguing that there were several problems with the trial.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal in Los Angeles affirmed the judgment and rejected the appellant's claims of error. Mr. Adelstein (along with Edward J. Horowitz) represented the sellers.

Case Data

Court of Appeal Opinion.
Court: Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Seven (Los Angeles)
Case No. B227274
Author: Justice Dennis Perluss
Opinion Date: June 25, 2012
Trial Counsel: Duane Bartsch
Post-Judgment Collection Counsel: Jeffrey Goss at Rubin & Goss

Urban Eco v. Tong

A seller of real property entered into sales agreement with a very short escrow deadline. She was trying to sell the property quickly for several important reasons, and the agreement specified that time is of the essence. The buyer knew about all of this. On the day before escrow was scheduled to close, a third party sued claiming he owned the property and filed a lis pendens on the property. After great expense, years of litigation, and numerous repairs to the property, the seller eventually won the cleared title.

The original buyer then sued the seller for specific performance, seeking to purchase the property years later for the original price. The trial court granted a non-suit after buyer presented its case. Mr. Adelstein (along with Edward J. Horowitz) represented the seller. The court held that under these circumstances, the passage of time had rendered the agreement unenforceable. The Court of Appeal in Los Angeles affirmed.

Case Data

Court of Appeal Opinion.
Court: Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Seven
Case No. B202340
Author: Justice Frank Jackson
Opinion Date: November 25, 2009
Trial Counsel: James Casello at Casello and Lincoln.

Kanavos v. Wilson

This case illustrates the rule that no good deed goes unpunished. A property owner did not use part of his side yard, and so he allowed his neighbor to use part of the side yard for storage. Eventually, the owner decided to use the yard and built a fence. The neighbor (who is a lawyer) sued, claiming that he now owned the side yard under the "agreed boundary" doctrine, that he now had a prescriptive easement allowing him to use the side yard, and that he now had obtained ownership of the side yard through adverse possession.

The trial court found in favor of the property owner. Mr. Adelstein represented the property owner on appeal, and the Court of Appeal affirmed. It noting the the property owner was simply being neighborly by allowing the neighbor to use the side yard, and this permissive use did not give the neighbor any permanent rights to the property.

Case Comment

This is one of the few cases where I have moved for appellate sanctions. Appellate courts are very reluctant to award appellate sanctions, and property so. However, in this case the issues were all factual, and the appellant had no plausible legal argument and violated numerous rules of appellate procedure. However, the Court of Appeal denied the sanctions motion.

Case Data

Court of Appeal Opinion.
Court: California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Two (Los Angeles)
Case No. B135168
Authors: Justice Michael G. Nott
Opinion Date: June 26, 2001
Trial Counsel: Daniel Barbakow at Barbakow & Ribet.

Beal Bank S.S.V. v. Dennis Bilodeau et al.

A bank loaned money to a general partnership to develop a shopping center. The loan was secured by a note and a trust deed on the property, both containing an attorney's fee provision. Ten years later, the partnership was unable to make the balloon payment. The parties agreed that the bank was entitled to a foreclosure judgment and stipulated tot his. However, they disputed the existence and amount of the deficiency. The trial court awarded the bank attorney's fees, even though the case had not been finally resolved and the bank might not have obtained any deficiency judgment.

Mr. Adelstein represented the partnership and other individuals on appeal. After the opening brief was filed, the case settled on favorable terms.

Case Data

Court of Appeal Opinion: none.
Court: California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two (Riverside)
Case No. E032820
Trial Counsel: David Rosman at Rosman & Germain LLP.