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City given additional time to respond to land buy lawsuit

By Staff | Dec 1, 2012

The city has been given more time to respond to a $1.31 million lawsuit filed by a real estate company that wants compensation over a land purchase.

The Fort Myers-based Boback Commercial Group, along with one of its agents, filed the suit against Cape Coral and two other defendants on Nov. 5, claiming that it was not compensated for the services that it rendered.

At a foreclosure auction in April, the city purchased approximately 652 acres in the Cape at a cost of about $13.08 million total. At the time of the purchase, the property was valued between $17.5 million and $23 million.

In the complaint, the company alleges that it and its agent provided the city with advice, expertise and the opportunity to buy the land at a lower price.

The city had until Monday to respond to the lawsuit.

“The city filed a motion with the court requesting additional time to respond to the complaint,” attorney Jason W. Holtz reported Thursday.

He is representing Boback and Paige Rausch, the Boback real estate agent.

“I have agreed to give them an additional 30 days to file their response,” Holtz said.

The Cape now has until the end of December to respond.

According to court documents, the city attorney cited the need to consult with city employees and other individuals as the reason for the request.

The other defendants listed in the complaint are FNB Corporation and a subsidiary, First National Bank of Pennsylvania. First National Bank was the lien holder on the property, which was going into foreclosure at the time.

Boback alleges that it and its agent procured a buyer – the city – for the property without FNB or First National having to take title to the property or becoming liable for the associated taxes and maintenance until it was sold.

According to official court documents, both FNB and First National were served on Nov. 13. They have until Dec. 3 to respond to the compliant.

Holtz’s clients are seeking $1.31 million in damages – the 10 percent “customary real estate commission on a commercial property deal.”

In May, a letter was sent to city officials and council members seeking a commission between 6 percent and 10 percent of the sale price. The council voted to move forward with the purchase, but denied any compensation.