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Judge Rejects `Extreme Makeover' Lawsuit

6:14 AM, Jul 18, 2007   |    comments
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In granting a motion for summary judgment last week, Judge Paul Gutman ruled the siblings had failed to prove their case against ABC, the production companies and the builder.

Charles Higgins and his four brothers were ages 14 to 21 when their mother died of breast cancer in April 2004 and their father died two months later from heart failure.

Phil and Loki Leomiti, who knew the children from church, took them in to their home in July 2004, according to the lawsuit. Producers of "Extreme Makeover" learned of the children's plight from a television newscast.

Workers demolished the Leomitis' house in February 2005. Pardee Homes replaced it with a nine-bedroom mansion, and show producers arranged for the siblings to receive cars, groceries, computers, stereos and other gifts.

Pardee paid off the mortgage on the new house but the Leomitis retained the title, according to the lawsuit.

About the time the show aired in early 2005, the relationship between the siblings and the Leomitis soured and the siblings moved out. Their lawsuit claims the Leomitis engaged in "an orchestrated campaign" to drive them away by insulting them and treating them poorly.

The lawsuit sought unspecified damages on allegations of fraud, breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress.

Patrick Mesisca Jr., lawyer for the siblings, said he planned to appeal.

"It's something we can bring to the court of appeal, and we will," he said.

The Leomitis remain party to the lawsuit because the motion for summary judgment related only to the business entities. Their lawyer, Robert English, said Gutman's decision helps his clients.

(Copyright Associated Press, All Rights Reserved)

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