In Mohamed Hadid’s ongoing legal battle over his half-built Bel Air spec mansion, the developer clearly lost this round.
On Monday, the presiding judge in his civil case quashed subpoenas that Hadid had served on various neighbors and ordered him to pay nearly $10,000 in attorneys fees.
Hadid has been at the center of several cases surrounding his Strada Vecchia Road mansion. Separately, the city has already fined him over the 30,000-square-foot project, and in 2015, ordered him to demolish it. Neighbors then sued Hadid, and the city, hoping to speed up that order.
In October, the developer’s lawyers served subpoenas on seven neighbors in the Bel Air Homeowners Alliance and Bel-Air Association. The strategy was to gain access to communications between the groups and the four neighbors suing Hadid. Those four are: John and Judith Bedrosian, and Bibi and Joe Horacek.
But the seven people who were issued the subpoenas are not parties in either of the lawsuits.
During a hearing last month, Judge Craig Karlan said he “didn’t see anything discoverable” in the documents Hadid requested. “I see this as a real problem that would chill people from even speaking out in the future for fear that they would be dragged into litigation,” Karlan said.
In Santa Monica Superior Court on Monday, the judge ruled that Hadid will have to pay $7,060 to those seven individuals in attorneys fees, plus another $2,060 to the two neighborhood associations. In his ruling, Karlan called the subpoenas “overly broad.”
Russell Wolpert, an attorney representing the association members, said in his motion that the subpoenas were “motivated by a vengeful developer” who “wants to exact a toll on local residents whom he perceives were in some way responsible for reporting his illegal activity.”
The civil case against Hadid is still ongoing. As of last week, the dozen lawyers involved in the complex case were deliberating how and when to properly demolish parts of the illegal structure. Another hearing is set for Thursday.
While significant, the fines are about a third of what the neighbors were initially demanding, which was closer to $25,000, court records show.
Jeff Costell, one of Hadid’s attorneys, said he would file a motion requesting the communications directly from the neighbors.
“This is not a significant setback for us,” he said.