Federal court grants summary judgment in favor of couple that sold French Quarter condo

By Charmaine Little | May 7, 2019

NEW ORLEANS – A federal court sided with a Louisiana couple that was sued over allegations of negligent and intentional misrepresentations, granting their motion for partial summary judgment on April 2.

Still, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana Judge Carl Barbier denied as moot defendants Michael and Jenny Tilbury's motion to strike unsworn declarations and attachments. It also denied plaintiffs Todd and Kate Novak’s cross motion for partial summary judgment in the case.

Barbier, calling the ongoing litigation not only “extensive” but “excessive,” explained his reasoning in the case that sparked over the Novaks' right to lease a French Quarter condo purchased from the Tilburys to use as their vacation home during summer break and then lease separately during the school year. The Novaks reside in California.

The transaction was disputed after the condo’s board of directors told the plaintiffs the minimum lease length had been changed from six months to a year. The plaintiffs sued the board, the sellers, the sellers’ real estate agent, their own real estate agent, the real estate company and insurance companies. The court found in favor for Novaks’ real estate agent, and this action commenced.

In their objection to the Tilbury’s motion for partial summary judgment, the plaintiffs first accused the Tilburys of negligent misrepresentation, claiming they knew of but did not tell them about defects in the condominium. The ruling states there were emails presented that showed the Tilburys possibly knew of the defects. But those emails are from October 2015, which was long after the Novaks sold the condo. 

“Finding, that the sellers knew of the report but not its contents, the court affirmed the trial court’s judgment that the sellers had not negligently misrepresented anything,” the ruling states.

The judge added that the condo getting an engineering report in 2011 that stated the building might be leaning was not enough evidence that the Tilburys, who Barbier pointed out were not members of the board, knew of the report when they sold it in 2015.

Considering this, Barbier granted the Tilburys their motion for summary judgment on the negligent and intentional misrepresentation claims.

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