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Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss Claims on Rihanna's Beverly Hills Home

Rihanna alleges LaRocca Inspection Associates Inc. did not make sure water seepage problems in Beverly Hills home were fixed in 2009 before the escrow closed.

By City News Service

Rihanna won a round in court Tuesday when a judge ruled that a home inspection firm will remain a defendant in a lawsuit in which the singer claims her former Beverly Hills home became flooded during rainy weather, just months after she bought it.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos denied a motion by attorney Gregory Pyfrom, representing LaRocca Inspection Associates Inc., to dismiss Rihanna's claims.

Pyfrom argued Rihanna had until January 2011, because of a one-year statute of limitations, to bring any claims against his client. The suit was filed eight months later.

Rihanna hired LaRocca Inspection Associates in the summer of 2009 to do an analysis of the Janice Place property for any needed repairs by the owners. She alleges they did not make sure water seepage problems in the hardwood floors were fixed before escrow closed on the $6.9 million purchase.

Pyfrom maintained Rihanna was aware of a problem at her home in late 2009 and early 2010 when her management team, including members of her security entourage, exchanged emails about water intrusion in the home caused by heavy rains, Pyfrom said.

In May 2010, an engineering report was prepared on behalf of the entertainer's insurance company that detailed the water damage, according to Pyfrom.

"She can't say, 'I'm this celebrity and I don't have to look at anything at any time for any reason,"' Pyfrom argued.

But Palazuelos said it is up to a jury to decide whether the water leaks were enough to put Rihanna on notice that it might be due in part to the "professional negligence" of the LaRocca inspectors.

Rihanna's suit names several other defendants -- including Prudential California Realty, which employed the singer's real estate agent -- and the home's prior owner, Adrian Rudomin.

The 25-year-old singer -- who filed the complaint under her real name, Robyn Fenty -- alleges negligence, fraud and breach of contract.

LaRocca countersued Rihanna and the other defendants in January 2012. LaRocca alleges the "SOS" singer breached their contract by not coming forward sooner and letting them know her problems with their work and give them a chance to do another inspection.

In another motion set for a hearing before Palazuelos on Wednesday, Pyfrom is asking for $7,500 in compensation from Rihanna for what he says are the costs of two years of legal work trying to take her deposition.

But Rihanna's lawyer, Miles Cooley, counters in his court papers that his client has "consistently agreed" to be deposed.

"Instead of withdrawing its motion, LaRocca insists on carrying out a smear campaign against (Rihanna), sets forth over 120 pages of email and court documents and shamelessly reveals confidential settlement offers and mediation results," Cooley's court papers state.

Cooley is asking Palazuelos to deny the motion as moot or deny the motion "as a remedy for LaRocca's patently improper disclosures."

Cooley states in his court papers that Pyfrom's argument "portrays a one-sided picture that omits the fact the parties had an agreement not to depose (Rihanna) until after the matter was mediated."

The mediation was delayed several times because of Pyfrom's vacation plans, according to Cooley's court papers.


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