Start date assigned in fraud trial

Jon Campisi Jun. 21, 2011, 9:38am

A trial date has been set in a fraud case involving two plaintiffs suing over what they contend was a failure on the part of the sellers to tell them a piece of city property was improperly zoned.

In Gonzales et all v. Zimmer et al, Ashley Gonzales and Ivan Rios maintain that they purchased a piece of property at 2853-55 Kensington Avenue with the intent of renting it out as residential units.

It wasn’t until after they made the purchase, however, that the two plaintiffs learned the property wouldn’t be able to accommodate their plans, since the only legal use for the property at the time was for office and meeting space for an alcohol and drug recovery center.

The plaintiffs, who bought the property for $160,000, are seeking a reimbursement for the money they spent to correct code violations on the property, as well as compensatory damages for lost rent that the two were unable to collect because they building has been uninhabitable.

ReMax Affiliates Northeast Inc., which was later replaced by successor Homes 4 All, LLC, as well as real estate agent Lynda Zimmer, were listed as defendants when the civil suit was first filed in August 2009, but have since been dismissed as defendants.

The property sellers, however, remain defendants. They are Henry Tenden and Heraldo Siahaan.

Last week, Common Pleas Court Judge Gary Glazer refused to proceed with the case on what would have originally been its start, since the two remaining defendants didn’t have attorney representation.

On Monday, June 20, all parties met in a status conference in courtroom 253 in City Hall. The defendants still had not obtained lawyers.

Nevertheless, a July 18 trial date was assigned.

During an arbitration hearing in October 2010, a judgment of $50,000 was recommended, but the plaintiffs appealed, instead opting for a jury trial, according to court papers.

The plaintiffs are being represented by attorney Laurence A. Mester, of the Grossman Law Firm, P.C.

In his lawsuit, Mester claims that his clients visited the property before they made the purchase, at which time they believed it to be zoned for residential use. It wasn’t until later that the two learned the property had a very specific use other than residential.

The plaintiffs are suing for lost revenue since they couldn’t collect any rent after the city turned them down for a landlord’s license.

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