A jury today dealt developer Mohamed Hadid a massive victory – and his Los Angeles neighbors a stunning defeat – in their long-running lawsuit against the maverick tycoon over his giant mansion that they fear could come crashing down a hillside and destroy their homes.
The Santa Monica jury awarded the neighbors – Joe and Bibi Horacek and John and Judy Bedrosian – a total of $2.6 million.
But that was just a fraction of the $26 million they were seeking to compensate them for the pain and anxiety and the loss of use and value of their homes they say they suffered over the last decade while Hadid was building his huge house in wealthy Bel Air.
After the verdict – which ended a trial that lasted six weeks – one of Hadid’s jubilant lawyers, Christopher Pitet, told DailyMail.com, ‘This is a major victory. We could not be more pleased with the jury’s verdict.
Mohamed Hadid, 72, has been building his cliffside Strada Vecchia project for 10 years. He is pictured above leaving the Santa Monica courthouse on Tuesday. By Friday, he had scored what his lawyer called a ‘major victory’
Four neighbors sought $26 million over the ‘stress, anxiety and sleepless nights’ that Hadid’s Bel Air estate has brought them
The neighbors, two pairs of husband and wife, were awarded a mere $2.6 million in total, with one pair getting just $300,000
They’re worried that the mansion will fall on them because they say it’s built on shoddy foundation on a hill prone to landslides
‘It wasn’t about the money. We were standing up for the community and the rule of law,’ one of the neighbors said
The crumbling 30,000 sq ft estate has cost Hadid a whopping $60 million in losses, he says, and a buyer recently backed out
An artistic rendering show what the mega mansion will look like if completed, though it’s currently far from finished
‘The jury clearly agreed that Mohamed Hadid did not intend to deceive or injure anybody.
‘This verdict goes a long way to restoring Mr. Hadid’s reputation.’
Outside the courtroom where the jury took three days to reach a verdict, the Horaceks looked devastated over the decision to award them only $2.3 million and the Bedrosians just $300,000.
‘That doesn’t even begin to pay our legal fees or the cost of the trial,’ 80-year-old Joe Horacek told DailyMail.com.
‘I’m disappointed because it wasn’t about the money. We were standing up for the community and the rule of law.’
His wife, Bibi, estimated that they and the Bedrosians jointly spent about $9 million in legal fees fighting Hadid and his mammoth mansion.
Retired entertainment lawyer Joseph Horacek, 80, got $2.3 million from the jury after claiming stress, anxiety and sleepless nights. Above, Horacek stands with a photo from a Vanity Fair shoot in which Hadid’s doomed estate was digitally removed
Hadid is the father of supermodels Gigi (left) and Bella. He says he’s too broke to pay the $5 million needed to demolish the mansion, which is under a two-year-old order to be torn down by a different judge
‘It’s a new and beautiful Days are coming ahead. My faith in the justice system has never been higher,’ Hadid, pictured above in the Santa Monica courthouse on Tuesday, said in an Instagram post on Friday
He continued: ‘My gratitude to my team … a great win for the defense. And the jury that understood the right from wrong.’ Above, Hadid walks out of the Santa Monica courthouse on Monday, August 30
Hadid, seen above outside of the Santa Monica Courthouse on August 30, says legal troubles and losses from the Bel Air property have forced him to downsize to a more ‘modest home’
‘I’m shocked by the verdict,’ she told DailyMail.com as she fought back tears. ‘I feel we’ve been let down by the system.’
Hadid, the 72-year-old father of supermodels Bella and Gigi, wasn’t in court today to savor his win.
In an Instagram post on Friday, Hadid relished his victory.
‘It’s a new and beautiful Days are coming ahead. My faith in the justice system has never been higher. My gratitude to my team … a great win for the defense. And the jury that understood the right from wrong,’ he wrote.
During the trial the neighbors’ legal team painted a picture of the Horaceks and the Bedrosians – both in their mid-80s – being unable to enjoy their golden years in the quiet and peace of Bel Air because of the daily specter of Hadid’s looming structure above.
Hadid relished his victory in an Instagram post Friday, thanking his lawyers, the jury and the city of Santa Monica, California
They wanted to punish Hadid for building a house that was supposed to only be 15,000 square feet but grew into a behemoth more than twice that size, threatening their homes because of illegal construction.
They told anguished stories of how 10 years of building work on the mansion on Strada Vecchia that Hadid once hoped to sell for $100 million brought ‘stress, anxiety, constant fear and sleepless nights’ into their daily lives.
And they told the jury that they’re afraid it could slide down the hill and crash into their homes directly below because its foundations don’t comply with safety standards and it was built atop a hill where illegal grading (shifting tons of earth) made the steep slopes it sits on unstable and prone to landslides.
Hadid adopted a defense of denial during the trial. He denied violating building regulations – even though in 2015 he pleaded no contest when he was prosecuted criminally by the City of LA after he refused to comply with ‘stop work’ orders issued because of illegal construction.
He denied bribing city building inspectors to turn a blind eye to construction work being done without permits.
And he denied that the mansion’s weak foundations and the unstable hillside it’s built on pose a risk to other homes in the community
Ultimately, the jury today showed little sympathy for the well-heeled neighbors’ tales of woe. And they found the Palestinian-American mogul wasn’t guilty of fraud or malice.
Horacek – a retired entertainment lawyer whose clients have included movie star Michael Douglas and TV’s Dr. Phil – questioned whether he’ll be able to collect even the $2.3 million fraction of what he had hoped to win in his lawsuit.
The jury on Friday found that the Palestinian-American mogul wasn’t guilty of fraud or malice, though he was prosecuted by the city for refusing to comply with ‘stop work’ orders. Above, he and his daughters on August 30 in Santa Monica
Because Hadid – once frequently dubbed a ‘multi-millionaire’ – claims he’s broke, even though he is currently building another, even more massive mansion in LA that he plans to sell for $250 million! (See full story in DailyMail.com Thursday.)
Hadid has declared that he’s facing a whopping $60 million in losses over his condemned, now-crumbling Strada Vecchia project, half of that his own money and the other half loans.
He also claimed that he owes an additional $15 million in other court judgements against him, he’s had to ‘drastically downsize’ from a 48,000 square foot home to a more ‘modest’ one, he’s made nothing from the caviar and champagne products carrying his name, and his daughters’ eyewear line – also using the Hadid brand – has also earned him no money.
Today’s verdict isn’t the end of the saga of Hadid’s notorious mega-mansion. Judge Craig Karlan, the judge who presided over the civil trial – has declared the house a ‘clear and present danger’ and ordered it to be torn down.
That order was almost two years ago. Yet the house is still standing because Hadid 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 destroy it – 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 the gargantuan 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 due to be heard by Judge Karlan next month.