Wenholz Dow Successfully Defends Wrongfully Accused Real Estate Fraud
Austin, Texas - On Monday, December 13, 2021, Wenholz | Dow, PC secured a defense verdict for Chip Thomson and his business ECT, Inc. against claims for real estate fraud brought by Adiena and Jeff Bednarz a local firm producer. The case, cause no. D-1-GN-18-003477; filed in the 98th Judicial District Court, Travis County was tried before Hon. Jessica Mangrum. The jury found that Mr. Thomson and ECT, Inc. did not commit fraud in the sale of 395 Whippoorwill Trail, Austin, TX 78746 and awarded Mr. Thomson $76,000.00 in attorney’s fees. This was only the third in person civil jury trial conducted by Travis County District Courts since the COVID -19 pandemic closed courthouses across the state.
Mr. Thomson sold the property at issue – slightly over 6 acres overlooking Barton Creek Country Club with 10 mile views, in 2015 to the Bednarz family from Dallas for $1,750,000.00. The original house was built in 1969 and Mr. Thomson was in the midst of a complete remodel when he placed it on the market. Accordingly, he openly disclosed that it was being remodeled, he never lived in the home and, thus sold the property “as-is.” The Bednarz’s, who own Rabbit Foot Studios in Austin, contracted with a short 6 day option period, did not attend the inspection of the home, which was conducted on the last day of the option period, did not ask for the option period to be extended, admitted that Mr. Thomson provided all information they requested and even introduced them to his contractor Mr. Guido DaVita of SMLXL, Inc. d/b/a Domus Construction whom they hired to remodel the home (again) and build a garage and guest home. When the post-sale remodel did not go as planned, the Bednarz sued Domus Construction and the landscaper, Biggs Construction for construction defects. The Bednarz’s waited three years after the sale to bring suit against Mr. Thomson. Moreover, the jury learned that Ms. Bednarz invited Mr. Thomson over to see the remodeled home over a year after it was sold and according to Mr. Thomson told him how happy they were with the property.
“The Mr. Thomson is grateful to the jury for its service and in exonerating him and his company from the charge of real estate fraud and awarding him all of his attorneys’ fees. This case hopefully will prompt other disgruntled buyers to re-evaluate filing suit out when they do not perform adequate due diligence and buy real estate as-is.” Sean Swords, lead counsel for the Defendant recounted.