CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Abraham Sandoval delivering his opening statement
Compton, CA - A real estate agent could be on the hook for punitive damages at a trial that began Wednesday in California state court over allegations he failed to disclose a home’s extensive fire damage to a buyer, and the proceedings are being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
Plaintiff Jose Jimenez sued his former real estate agent, Louis Teque, after purchasing a home in Lynwood that Jimenez claims he can’t live in due to fire damage in the attic, faulty wiring and a number of unpermitted modifications.
Jimenez’s lawyer, Abraham Sandoval of Sandoval Law, told jurors during his opening statement he would seek punitive damages for Jimenez’s breach of contract and negligence claims, arguing that Teque deliberately omitted reference to the fire damage and other issues in formal documentation.
Teque and co-defendant Capero Investments Inc. maintain that Jimenez knew the home required extensive renovations and voluntarily waived a series of inspections that would have otherwise revealed the damage.
Sandoval told jurors that Jimenez, a first-time homebuyer, hired Teque on a friend’s recommendation in 2017 to find a new home as his family grew.
"What Jose came to realize after he had bought the home was that it had various material defects that were not disclosed to him,” Sandoval said, according to CVN’s webcast of the trial.
Sandoval claimed Teque himself filled out disclosure forms omitting any reference to fire damage instead of providing Jimenez with disclosures from the seller directly. He supposedly told Jimenez not to date it, and then later added a date the same day the transaction closed.
“How could all of this have happened,” Sandoval asked the jury. “Simple. Fraud.”
He told jurors he would seek $144,577 in compensatory damages related to Jimenez’s rental costs for his recent housing along with his current mortgage payments, along with an unspecified amount of punitive damages.
Representing the defense, Maximiliano Galindo of Curd Galindo & Smith LLP told jurors that Jimenez agreed to purchase the home in question after having numerous offers on other properties rejected, and that Teques clearly advised him the home “needed work.”
Galindo claimed the seller’s acceptance of Jimenez's offer included an addendum that the seller would make no additional repairs, and that the purchase was contingent on the buyer’s personal inspection and not any representations made by the seller.
Galindo explained how Jimenez and Teque went to City Hall and confirmed no record of city violations existed on the property and then undertook an inspection of the house that supposedly left Jimenez pleased.
“After walking through the entire house and the property Mr. Jimenez tells Mr. Teque that he thought it was going to be worse, and that he’s happy because he thought the house was going to be in worse condition,” Galindo argued to the jury, adding that Jimenez supposedly rebuffed Teques’ suggestion to obtain additional inspections.
Galindo maintained the fire damage, supposedly caused by faulty wiring, was minor enough that even the sellers themselves weren’t aware of it.
“The sellers do not remember a fire ever at the home, and LA County records will show there were never any calls for service at the address for fires,” Galindo said.
The trial is taking place before Judge Michael Shultz.
The case is captioned Jose Ivan Rodriguez Jimenez v. Capero Invetments Inc. & Louis Brian Teque, case number 18CMCV00035, in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
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