Melody Angeles-Riparip vs. Googol, LLC, and Richtown Realty


    Christopher Faenza and Sean Kim obtained a defense verdict on behalf of Richtown Realty and a nonsuit in favor of Googol, LLC, in a lawsuit brought by plaintiff for fraud and punitive damages.

    On April 5, 2005, plaintiff and defendant Googol, LLC, executed a commercial lease agreement. Richtown Realty was the broker for the lease agreement and also served as the property management company for the subject premise. The lease agreement allowed plaintiff to use certain space for a health care facility for a period of five years, with an additional five-year option.

    Plaintiff contended that she was promised, both prior to and after the execution of the agreement, reimbursement or an offset of tenant improvement in the incurred amount of over $150,000. In that regard, plaintiff proceeded to trial on causes of action for fraud in the inducement of the commercial lease agreement and breach of oral modification of commercial lease agreement. Plaintiff also sought punitive damages.

    Defendants contested liability on the basis that defendants never made any misrepresentations or promises to plaintiff in relation to tenant improvements. Moreover, defendant Googol, LLC, contended that it never provided authority for nor ratified any such alleged conduct. Both defendants contended that the lease agreement, and the provisions therein, did not support plaintiff's claim. In that regard, Mr. Faenza and Mr. Kim focused on the absence of written documentation suggesting that defendants had, in fact, promised reimbursement or offsets of tenant improvement incurred by plaintiff. Moreover, even if the jury found that defendants made fraudulent misrepresentations, then plaintiff should have discovered the same on April 5, 2005, date of execution of the lease agreement, which would trigger the statute of limitations.

    Prior to trial, plaintiff's cause of action for breach of oral modification of commercial lease agreement was dismissed after submission of jury instructions. Mr. Faenza and Mr. Kim submitted special jury instructions, in which they cited Civil Code § 1624, which requires leases of land for more than one year to be in writing.

    This case was tried in Los Angeles County, in Pomona, before the Honorable Peter Meeka. The trial lasted for one week.

    After the completion of plaintiff's case-in-chief, the court granted Googol, LLC's motion for nonsuit. After approximately two hours of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Richtown Realty on the remaining cause of action for fraud.

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