X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Miller, Starr & Regalia wasn’t negligent when it advised a retired couple who invested $3 million in a 1991 Lake Elsinore real estate deal, a Alameda County jury said Monday. The verdict ended a month-long malpractice trial that probed whether Miller, Starr partner Leslie Johnson failed to advise her clients about the risks they faced if one of the parties involved in the deal failed to live up to its obligations. The jury �� which deliberated for just over two hours �� voted 9-3 that Johnson wasn’t negligent. “It was really unfortunate that the case was brought,” said Johnson, a transactions attorney who has worked at Miller, Starr for 33 years. The plaintiffs’ attorney, San Francisco solo Stephen Ledoux, has not decided whether to appeal. Rodney and Gertrude Medeiros sought up to $11 million from Miller, Starr, a firm whose founding partners penned an influential tome on real estate law. Johnson helped the couple strike an unusual sale-leaseback deal with Kmart, but the pair would be on the hook for lease payments if Kmart failed to pay. That’s what happened when Kmart went bankrupt in 2002. If the San Francisco couple had known they would be responsible for lease payments, they would have invested their money in an apartment building, which would have netted them $11 million, their attorney argued. Former Kmart officials gave key testimony raising questions about the Medeiros’ credibility, said Thomas Alborg, a Walnut Creek attorney who represented Miller, Starr. The officials testified that the company shuttered the Lake Elsinore store well before the bankruptcy and offered to pay a substantial sum to back out of the lease deal. The Kmart officials said the couple declined that offer. “It was a Perry Mason moment,” said Alborg, name partner at Alborg, Veiluva & Epstein. George Medeiros testified that he did not recall the conversation, he added. Ledoux said the jury instructions may be grounds for appeal. Alameda County Superior Court Judge John Kraetzer had dismissed the broker involved in the deal from the litigation, but the broker was still mentioned in the jury instructions, Ledoux said. In post-trial interviews jurors said that they felt the broker was at fault, the lawyer noted. “Had the jury not been able to blame someone who was no longer involved in the case, the verdict would have been different,” he said. Ledoux never objected to the jury instructions, Alborg said. The case is Medeiros v. Johnson, RG03079383.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.