A U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles tossed out a lawsuit a company tied to Bruce Makowsy filed against Zillow, ending for now a legal battle over the developer’s fabled “Billionaire” spec mansion.
Judge Otis D. Wright dismissed with prejudice 924 Bel Air LLC’s claim against Zillow for negligence in a written ruling handed down this week.
The Makowsky-formed LLC claimed in a lawsuit filed last February that Zillow damaged the sales value of “Billionaire” because a user on the widely read real estate listings site repeatedly and falsely stated that the 38,000-square-foot property sold for $90 million.
Zillow pulled these posts and banned the user who made them, but not before, Makowsky argued, the property’s “elite status” had been damaged.
But the judge ruled that Zillow was plainly protected by the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that protects websites from being held liable for third-party postings.
“Reviewing each user’s activity and postings to ensure their accuracy is precisely the kind of activity for which Congress” intended the Communications Decency Act “to provide immunity,” Wright ruled. The judge later added, “The court does not find this to be a close case.”
Makowsky could not be reached for comment. Makowsky’s lawyer, Ronald Richards, told the Los Angeles Times that his client planned to appeal Wright’s decision.
The Zillow litigation added to the saga around “Billionaire,” a 12-bedroom, 21-bathroom home with luxury features including a room full of candy and a Louis Vuitton designed bowling alley.
Makowsy, who made his fortune selling handbags on the QVC network, first put the home on the market in 2017 — listing it at $250 million — at the time the priciest residential real estate listing in the country.
The handbag mogul then chopped the price to $188 million, and next to $150 million before selling the manse for $94 million last October, or $2,473 square foot — a 62 percent discount from its original $250 million price. The buyer behind the LLC that purchased the mansion is not known.