Commercial Real Estate Fraud
In forming a contract for the purchase, sale, construction, and renovation of a commercial building, a vulnerable person can sometimes become the victim of real estate or investment fraud. I offer aggressive and intelligent legal representation for victims of real estate and investment fraud, as well as for persons, groups, or companies who are wrongfully accused of misrepresentation, nondisclosure, investment fraud, securities violations, and bad faith breach of contract in relation to a real estate transaction.
In California, due to a law called the Statute of Frauds, mostly every real estate transaction must be documented in a written contract. And in virtually every written contract in California, there is an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which requires all the parties to the contract to uphold and perform their contractual obligations to the best of their abilities and to sincerely and reasonably manifest good will and good intentions in so doing. Thus, if a person breaches a contract and does so in bad faith, they may also be liable for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
Fraud is a classic example of bad faith. It is an intentional act of misrepresentation, concealment, or nondisclosure of material facts. According to California case law, the elements of fraud are: (1) the wrongdoer’s misrepresentation (e.g., concealment, false representation, or nondisclosure of a material fact), (2) the wrongdoer must know of the falsity (“scienter”), (3) the wrongdoer must misrepresent the material fact with the intent to defraud the victim (that is, with the intent to cause the victim to rely on the misrepresented material facts), (4) the victim must justifiably rely on the misrepresentation (meaning, the victim’s reliance must be objectively reasonable such that a reasonably prudent person in the victim’s shoes would also have similarly relied on the facts as represented by the wrongdoer), and (5) the victim is actually damaged as a result of his reliance on the misrepresented facts. Lazar v. Superior Court 1996 12 Cal.4th 631, 638. The California Code of Civil Procedure section 338(d) defines the relevant Statute of Limitations for fraud in California, meaning the time period the victim has to file a complaint in court lest the victim forever lose the legal right to bring a lawsuit against the wrongdoer for that particular wrong act. In California, the victim must file a lawsuit against the wrongdoer within 3 years of the date of the fraudulent act of the wrongdoer, or within 3 years of having discovered the fraud so long as the victim did not have an objectively good reason to discover it earlier (“the discovery rule”). In fraud lawsuits, a Plaintiff can seek to recover from the Defendant monetary damages equal to the actual damages to the Plaintiff plus punitive damages, which can be multiple times the amount of the actual monetary damages. Thus, real estate fraud lawsuits can potentially seek millions of dollars in actual and punitive monetary damages. In addition to monetary relief, a Plaintiff can seek declaratory relief from the Court in a Real Estate Fraud Lawsuit, such as an injunction that either mandates or prohibits certain actions by the Defendant. For example, a Plaintiff can ask the Court for an injunction that prohibits the Defendant from selling a house that the Defendant may have stolen through forgery from the Plaintiff.
In a Real Estate Fraud matter, one person can intentionally try to “con” another person in a real estate purchase, construction, or investment transaction. A “con-job” is slang for a “confidence game,” which is a type of fraud whereby one person gains another person’s confidence and uses it against them. Sometimes, the “con-artist” can be a friend or family member, or otherwise a work associate, colleague, neighbor, parishioner community member, or a person that the victim just seemingly randomly meets. For example, there have been cases where one person sells a property belonging to another person without the real owner knowing about it.
Investment fraud generally involves a more direct and seemingly above-board relationship between the victim and the con-artist. For example, a wrongdoer may convince a vulnerable person to give him or her money to invest in a supposed real estate investment deal, but may instead simply steal that person’s money. In such instances, the police may rightly or wrongly refuse to help the victim of such fraud, telling the victim that the matter is not a criminal one but rather a civil matter that should be handled in a civil Superior Court.
I fully appreciate the fact that justice cuts both ways, and simply because a person is accused of wrongdoing does not mean that they are actually guilty. In fact, sometimes the seeming victim is actually the wrongdoer, intentionally lying in court (and thereby committing perjury) to try to blame an innocent person for something they didn’t do. The facts are not always what they appear to be. For example, some people simply refuse to understand that every investment comes with a certain element of risk, and that you cannot always rightfully sue your business partner, stockbroker, or related company when you lose all of your money in a poorly-chosen investment.
I offer passionate representation for Plaintiffs and Defendants in Real Estate fraud and investment matters in informal negotiations, formal arbitration, and civil lawsuits. Such cases may involve professional investors, Realtors, Brokers, construction contractors, business partners, and divorced spouses in Real Estate Fraud and Investment matters. I am determined to provide sterling representation for all such clients in these matters.
I offer thoughtful legal representation in commercial Real Estate transactions and lawsuits, as well as in related matters of Business Law. Often, Fraud cases involve other very serious legal matters as well, including Criminal charges such as Robbery or Larceny, Family Law and Community Property matters, and Corporate Law matters. My full scope law practice offers aggressive and eloquent legal representation in these related matters. In fact, for an attorney to provide truly effective legal representation for a client in any complex Real Estate matter, he or she should also address these related areas of law.
This is why it is crucial to have an intelligent attorney represent you as early as possible in any transaction or lawsuit involving a commercial real estate sale, construction, or investment of any kind. I offer transactional representation in an array of situations, including real estate purchase and sale contracts, construction and renovation contracts, and investment agreements. By having the benefit of attorney supervision at the transactional phase, you may solidify your rights, seek to limit your obligations, and generally try to safeguard yourself from having to deal later with expensive and stressful lawsuits.
My passion and skills make me a powerful ally in the courtroom as well as a fierce opponent. With my strong ability to carefully select among an array of litigation support professionals including forensic specialists, certified professional accountants, private investigators, lie detection experts, computer specialists, and investment analysts, I aim to give my clients the confidence that they will be well represented in the courtroom. Please read some of my clients’ Testimonials.
I remain focused on providing outstanding and effective legal representation to clients in Real Estate Investment transactions and Real Estate Fraud litigation matters alike.