Nicolas Cage suffered a potential legal setback Monday when a judge said in a tentative ruling that the Academy Award-winning actor cannot force arbitration of a construction defect lawsuit filed against him and a developer by the brother of actress Blake Lindsley.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu said the allegations against Cage by Bradley Lindsley for fraud and negligent non-disclosure should be decided by a jury because of the danger of inconsistent rulings if arbitration is ordered of the claims against Cage but not the developer, the Lee Group.
Lindsley bought the home, located in Venice, from Cage seven years ago for $3 million
``For example, the jury could find that there was no construction defect (by the Lee Group) at the property, while the arbitrator (could) find that there was a construction defect, the sellers (Cage) knew about it and the sellers failed to disclose it,'' Treu said.
Treu is scheduled to hear arguments on Wednesday before issuing a final ruling.
Cage has denied any wrongdoing. His attorneys have filed a separate motion asking that the allegations against him be dismissed on grounds Lindsley waited too long to file them. A hearing on that motion is scheduled June 23.
Lindsley filed the suit in May 2009 against the Lee Group. Cage -- the subject of numerous media reports after his economic woes forced him to sell some of his other homes at drastically reduced prices -- was added as a defendant a month later.
In a separate complaint, Cage has sued his former business manager, Samuel Levin, blaming him for reckless spending that included not paying the actor's taxes.
While not a defendant in the Lindsley suit, Levin was involved in November 2002 when Cage bought one of two single-family homes the Lee Group built adjacent to each other on Ocean Front Walk, according to the complaint.
Lindsley believes that some time after Cage moved in to the home, the actor and his neighbor in the other Lee Group home had problems with flooding and told the developers, the suit states. However, the Lee Group was unable to fix the problems, according to the lawsuit.
``It is now clear that before Cage told the residence to (Lindsley), he obtained a written engineering report ... that there was no fix (and) that any potential owner of the property would have to accept the risk associated with drainage at the site,'' Lindsley's court papers state.
When a prior prospective buyer of Cage's residence found out about the problems he canceled escrow, the suit states.
When Lindsley bought the home from Cage in May 2003, the actor did not tell him about the defects, the lawsuit states.
Five years later, Lindsley hired engineers to look into conditions at the home and found the problems Cage allegedly did not disclose, the suit states.
``As a result of the investigation, the engineers discovered foundation, drainage, structural and superstructure defects ... not outwardly apparent or reasonably discoverable, except by an expert analysis ...,'' the suit states.
Lindsley is a filmmaker who produced his 36-year-old sister's movie ``Dogtown.'' She also has had roles in ``Starship Troopers,'' ``Swingers'' and the Matthew Perry film ``Getting In.''