The Law Center is representing MW, a Philadelphia man with intellectual disabilities who was deceived into selling his home for .05% of its market value – a grand total of $25.
MW has intellectual disabilities, and his ability to read is extremely limited. His parents left the home to his brother, and after MW’s brother died the home deteriorated around him. He lived without electricity, heat, or water until he moved into a group home nearby.
The defendant lives only five blocks from MW’s former house, and in 2010, he approached MW about purchasing the building. Perfectly aware of MW’s disabilities, the defendant promised money and clothes in exchange for the house, and he falsely claimed to have been friends with MW’s parents in order to gain his trust. The defendant promised to pay MW $5,000 for the house but only gave him $25 immediately after the signing. The defendant then renovated the home and sold it for $160,000, none of which went to MW. So far, he has not responded to our inquiries in the matter.
The lawsuit asks that the Court order the defendant to reimburse MW for the original value of the house as well as some of the value on resale.
Judge Rules in Favor of MW and Awards $70,000 in Damages
After a default was entered against the defendant because he failed to respond to legal notices regarding the suit, MW’s case was heard before the Court of Common Pleas. During an April 15th hearing, the Court listened to testimony from the plaintiff MW, one of MW’s neighbors and a law student who volunteers at the Law Center and who has conducted extensive research in this case.
The Law Center argued that the defendant was unjustly enriched by his receipt of the title to the house as it was sold to him well below fair market value – the notarized indenture for transfer of the home shows a $1 sale cost. After hearing testimony and reviewing records regarding the sale, the Judge proposed an order in favor of the plaintiff that awarded damages in the amount of $70,000 to be paid by the defendant. These damages reflect the fair market value of the house as set by the court, an increase over the $54,000 estimated market value at the time of the sale in 2010. The Law Center will now work to ensure the defendant complies with the order.