Complete prevail in bench trial of complex multiparty real estate case

Announcement Date: February 5, 2016

In a complex multiparty real estate case beginning in April of 2015, Mr. Vanderpool completely prevailed in a two week bench trial, defensing all causes of action in Plaintiffs’ complaint, and prevailing on all causes of action in his clients’ cross-complaint. Plaintiffs’ complaint alleged ownership of an ocean view home in San Clemente. Plaintiffs had lived at the property for over 20 years, but had lost title due to a bank foreclosure in 1996. Plaintiffs then talked a friend into purchasing the property back from the bank, and “secretly” holding title for their benefit.

Plaintiffs arranged for a loan in defendant’s name and agreed to make all payments relating to the property. Most importantly, Plaintiffs agreed to take defendant off title within one year. Plaintiffs then violated this agreement, repeatedly made late payments on the loan, damaging defendant’s credit rating, and never took defendant off title. After years of asking the Plaintiffs to abide by their agreement, defendant then sold the home to an investor. Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against their former friend and his spouse, the buyer, the buyer’s principal, the lender and its principal, and numerous other parties associated with the purchase. Plaintiffs sought title to the property, alleging causes of action for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, slander of title, cancellation of instrument, declaratory relief, fraud, conversion, unfair business practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress and adverse possession. Mr. Vanderpool’s clients cross-complained for declaratory relief, quiet title and ejectment. The focus of defendants’ case was the affirmative defense of unclean hands. Defendants successfully argued that all of Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the equitable doctrine of unclean hands in setting up and participating in felony bank fraud, and repeatedly breaching their agreements to the defendant buyer. Judgment was entered on May 26, 2015, and Mr. Vanderpool had successfully evicted the Plaintiffs from the property pursuant to a writ of possession by June 25, 2015.