Former Laker Coach Rudy Tomjanovich and his wife, Sophie, are liable for up to $3.8 million in damages for not disclosing extensive water leaks within a Pacific Palisades home they sold in 2007 to Strata Capital founder Steven Bardack, the hedge fund manager's attorney told a jury Thursday.
Attorney H. James Keathley, in his opening statement in the trial of Bardack's lawsuit against the Tomjanoviches, said Bardack paid $6.5 million for the home.
The couple purchased the residence three years earlier from ''Girls Gone Wild'' founder Joe Francis.
''They had a duty to disclose all material defects,'' Keathley told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury. ''They intentionally didn't disclose this information.''
However, defense attorney Paul Fine said his clients thought they had fulfilled their obligations to Bardack when they sold him their home.
''They made an honest effort to comply with what they believed to be their disclosure duties,'' Fine said. ''You'll see evidence of things only Superman can see with his X-ray vision.''
Fine said Tomjanovich and his wife were looking for a home in Los Angeles in 2004 after his client was hired to replace Phil Jackson when the legendary Laker coach left after his initial stint with the team.
Fine said it was a time of uncertainty for Tomjanovich.
''He didn't know if Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant would be staying and he had to find a home,'' Fine said.
Tomjanovich resigned after 41 games due to health issues.
According to Keathley's court papers, the Tomjanoviches knew as early as
September 2004 that glass railings surrounding the patios were installed in a
way that allowed water to run down the glass and under the stone on the decks.
Two months later, rain came through a skylight and caused damage to a foyer and and flooring, Keathley's court papers state. But instead of hiring a contractor to fix the problem, the Tomjanoviches had a handyman repair the
damage, Keathley's court papers state.
''Within a few months of escrow closing, during the rains in January and
February 2008, Bardack discovered that there were water intrusion problems
emanating from leaking windows throughout the house and a skylight area in the entry,'' Keathley's court papers state. ''The ceiling in the foyer collapsed.
The wetness of the exterior stucco revealed areas which appeared to have been
Bardack still lives at the home, Keathley said.
The 63-year-old Tomjanovich played in the NBA as a power forward for the
Houston Rockets. In December 1977, he was punched and almost killed by Laker Kermit Washington during an on-court melee at The Forum in Inglewood. He was sidelined for five months.
The Tomjanoviches sat behind their attorneys as they listened to the opening statements.