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Mohamed Hadid could see that figure climb a lot higher if the jury in his ongoing ‘millionaires-versus-billionaires’ trial sides with the neighbors and awards them additional damages for ‘malice, oppression and fraud.’
Neighbors Joe and Bibi Horacek and John and Judy Bedrosian have been feuding with property tycoon Hadid for a decade over the house which was dubbed the ‘Starship Enterprise.’
As the trial in Santa Monica, California, entered its sixth week, their attorney Ariel Neuman told the court his clients ‘deserve to be compensated for the anguish, fear, anxiety and stress they’ve been through for the last 10 years.’
Neuman asked the jury to award the Horaceks $1.9 million, and the Bedrosians $4.2 million for the ‘loss of use and enjoyment’ of their homes in upscale Bel Air caused by the half-built house looming nearby.
He sought another $2.35 million for the loss in value to the Horaceks’ home.
Mohamed Hadid has attended the six weeks of the trial, sometimes with his oldest daughters, Marielle, 40, (center) and Alana, 36, (right) by his side
Hadid was seen having a laugh with his two daughters Alana and Marielle who have supported their father throughout the case
At a previous hearing, Hadid claimed he and his daughters were subject to a ‘warrantless search’ of their phones after a juror accused him of secretly taking photos of the judge
Neuman also asked for an additional $12 million for the Horaceks and $6 million for the Bedrosians in damages for having to live in ‘constant fear’ that Hadid’s huge house ‘will come down the hill and destroy their homes.’
Despite the threat of having to pay the huge amounts, Hadid was seen outside the court laughing with his two older daughters, Alana, 36, and Marielle, 40, who have supported their father throughout the case.
The amount sought for the Horaceks is larger, said Neuman, ‘because they have suffered more.
‘Joe Horacek has been the subject of relentless attacks from Hadid. Mrs. Horacek suffers from depression. Joe Horacek suffers nightmares. It got so scary that they had to move away.
‘Joe Horacek’s name has been dragged through the mud. He was called an extortionist and an animal.
‘The Bedrosians are scared for their lives.’
Calling the elderly neighbors he represents, ‘the victims of a crime,’ Neuman told the jury, that instead of enjoying a peaceful retirement, they had to spend the last 10 years fighting Hadid and the giant project above them.
‘You can’t get back 10 years of peace but they deserve compensation.
‘Mr. Hadid wanted to sell his property for $100 million and he didn’t care who or what got in his way.
‘He is a bully who will bulldoze anyone or anything in his way to get what he wants,’ Neuman added.
‘He ignored and violated building codes again and again. His conduct was despicable – he should be punished.’
Calling Hadid a ‘rogue developer,’ Neuman described the saga of the huge, now crumbling mega-mansion as ‘an incredible story of corruption, greasing the wheels by bribing inspectors.
And he described his clients’ lawsuit as a ‘poster child for a verdict of malice’
‘There was cheating, bribing, cutting corners, ignoring building codes,’ he added. ‘Every step was taken with a total disregard for safety.’
Neighbor Joe Horacek (pictured in front of his home with Hadid’s home in the background) ‘has been the subject of relentless attacks from Hadid. Mrs. Horacek suffers from depression. Joe Horacek suffers nightmares. It got so scary that they had to move away,’ his lawyer said
In 2019 a judge ordered the property – dubbed the ‘Starship Enterprise’ – to be torn down out of safety concerns, saying it was a nuisance and a danger to the public
The massive palace Hadid once hoped to sell for $100 million now sits abandoned and half-constructed on the hilltop. A buyer who had offered $9 million to purchase the building – and tear it down – recently backed out of the deal
The home is still standing (seen just last week ) because Hadid – once a multi-millionaire – claims he doesn’t have the $5 million it would cost to demolish it
Hadid’s attorney Jeff Reeves lashed back in his closing argument, saying Russell Linch, the mansion project’s general contractor, was partially to blame for code violations and insisting that Hadid did not deliberately flout planning regulations.
The construction site was ‘crawling with inspectors,’ Reeves told the jury. ‘The city was inspecting it every step of the way. You couldn’t hide anything if you wanted to.
‘There was one person who had real concerns though – Joe Horacek. ‘He is not on the fence about this project. He is one hundred percent anti.
‘The City was aware of any problems Mr. Horacek imagined and they were fine with it. It was approved as a very large structure.
‘All these inspections mean there was no malice.’
Reeves accused the neighbors’ legal team of ‘concocting’ stories about Hadid bribing LA City inspectors to ignore illegal construction and look the other way.
‘They want you to find Mr. Hadid guilty of malice and this (the bribery accusation) was their best shot,’ he told the jury. ‘But it never happened.’
Reeves told the court that Horacek – who was accused by Hadid of trying to extort $3.5 million out of the developer in exchange for making his problems with the city go away – ‘after he didn’t get paid the $3.5 million, followed through with his threat to destroy the project.
‘That’s how the project got derailed – Mr Horacek exerted his influence over the City. The permits were revoked. The project was dead.’
As for the neighbors’ lawsuit claims that Hadid’s massive house is a public and private nuisance, a dangerous and unstable building that resulted in the loss of use and enjoyment of their own homes, Reeves argued that the hillside on which the mansion is built was compromised before Hadid bought the site and he spent $1.2 million on improvements to make it safer.
Hadid was fixing the site’s problems, he said ‘but he didn’t finish because the job was interrupted by Mr. Horacek’.
For the neighbors, he added. ‘There is no loss of use or enjoyment due to the structure.’
Reeves also insisted that the dangers of the mansion and steep hillside it sits on have been exaggerated. ‘There is no imminent danger of collapse,’ he said.
The Horaceks and the Bedrosians brought their lawsuit against Hadid after the 15,000-square feet house he was supposed to build, illegally grew into a behemoth more than twice that size, towering over their properties.
Neighbors have been fighting for years for the demolition of the property because of all the alleged unapproved construction
Attorney Gary Lincenberg pointed out that according to expert opinion, piles supporting the house – which were not sunk deep enough into the hillside to comply with local building codes – ‘will fail in the event of a 24-year earthquake or a 10-20-year rain event’
It should have been torn down by now, thanks to a demolition order made almost two years ago by Judge Karlan, who declared it a ‘clear and present danger’ to the community around it,’ mainly because the foundation piles supporting the hillside house don’t comply with local building codes.
It’s still standing because Hadid – once a multi-millionaire – claims he doesn’t have the $5 million it would cost to demolish it. And a buyer who had offered $9 million to purchase the building – and tear it down – recently backed out of the deal.
The neighbors’ lead attorney, Gary Lincenberg, has filed a motion in Judge Karlan’s court, blasting the City of LA for allowing Hadid to get away with building his massive, illegal house in the first place and demanding that the city tear it down immediately because of the threat it poses to the homes it overlooks.
That motion is still pending and is scheduled to be heard by Judge Karlan in October.
The neighbors, led by Horacek, 80 – a retired entertainment lawyer whose clients have included movie star Michael Douglas and TV’s Dr. Phil – have been present in court throughout the trial, except for John Bedrosian who is in his 80s and is recovering from a broken hip.
Hadid has attended the six weeks of the trial as well, sometimes with Alana and Marielle — his daughters with his first wife Mary — by his side. His supermodel daughters are with second wife Yolanda.
He declared last October that he’s broke – facing $60 million in losses over the headline-making mansion, half of that his own money and the other half loans.
He also claimed that he owes an additional $15 million in court judgments against him, he’s had to ‘drastically downsize’ from a 48,000 square foot home to a more ‘modest’ one.
He says he has made no money from the caviar and champagne products that carry his name, and his model daughters’ eyewear line – also using the Hadid brand – has gone belly up.
He has tried several legal moves to try to stop or delay the wrecking ball. First he filed chapter 11 bankruptcy, claiming he ‘couldn’t afford’ the $5 million demo cost. That was dismissed.
Then he filed an appeal against Judge Karlan’s order to tear down the giant house. That too was denied.
Gigi and Bella Hadid’s father faces millions in losses in the civil suit over his condemned Los Angeles mega-mansion
Hadid has had Alana (far right) 36, and Marielle, 40 (second from left) by his side
In May last year he launched a desperate bid to save his building project by asking California’s Supreme Court to send the case back to Judge Karlan’s court. But the state’s highest court torpedoed his efforts, refusing even to hear the case.
Then, in a last-ditch move, Hadid’s lawyers filed a second appeal – this time against Judge Karlan’s decision to appoint a receiver to oversee destruction of the house. He lost that appeal as well.
Hadid was prosecuted criminally by the City of LA in 2015 after he refused to comply with ‘stop work’ orders.
He pleaded no contest to three criminal charges involving illegal construction and in July 2017 he was told he would serve a 180-day jail sentence if he didn’t reduce the size of the house and bring it into compliance with city building codes – or demolish it – within the three years of probation the judge also imposed.
In addition, he was fined $3,000, ordered to pay $14,191 in fees to LA city, and serve 200 hours of community service.
A few months after Hadid’s criminal convictions and sentences, his neighbors – unhappy with what they saw as a slap on the wrist from the criminal court – filed the civil lawsuit against him that is finally about to be decided.