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Havilah Real Property Services, LLC v. VLK, LLC

108 A.3d 334 (2015)

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Havilah Real Property Services, LLC v. VLK, LLC

District of Columbia Court of Appeals

108 A.3d 334 (2015)

Facts

Vicky Lynn Karen and LaMar Carlson were former romantic partners who formed VLK, LLC (defendant), a company that resold for profit distressed houses in Washington, D.C. After his romantic relationship with Karen ended, Carlson began a romantic relationship with Joan Alderman, owner of Havilah Real Property Services, LLC (plaintiff). Havilah was a competitor of VLK. VLK sued Havilah, alleging that Carlson had wrongfully transferred $10,000 from VLK to Havilah to buy properties. In connection with the suit, VLK filed lis pendens on 51 of Havilah’s properties in D.C. A lis pendens is a document recorded in a county’s real property records that gives notice of pending litigation concerning a property. A lis pendens filing greatly increases the difficulty of selling a property due to the potential risks to buyers. The lawsuit was resolved, and VLK released the lis pendens. Havilah subsequently brought a separate suit against VLK, arguing that it had filed the lis pendens with an improper motive and that VLK had tortiously interfered with the sales of 31 of the 51 properties covered by the filings. Evidence showed that Havilah had successfully sold all of its properties until the lis pendens were filed. Evidence also showed that Havilah actively marketed all 31 of the properties in question, developing genuine purchaser interest in the properties and securing contracts to sell several of them prior to the filings. After the filings, the sales contracts fell through, and Havilah was unable to sell any of the properties. A jury found for Havilah and awarded $602,942 in damages. VLK appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Blackburne-Rigsby, J.)

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