When it comes to frivolous lawsuits, here is a case that may well end up in the annals of Texas real estate education in the years to come. The case involves a five year legal saga involving the current CEO of Nabors Industries, Anthony Petrello. Apparently Petrello didn’t like his neighbor’s choice of buyers, and attempted to buy the house himself while obstructing the sale to another party, even though the neighbors had a bonafide written purchase agreement for more money with the other party. In this case more money being $8.3 million for the home near Rice University. Petrello apparently sued the sellers, Matt and Sheryl Prucka, and the buyers they contracted with, Rahul and Usha Nath. Petrello even went as far as filing a lis pendens to hold up the sale once he learned of the signed purchase agreement between the Pruckas and Naths.
The court was not amused with Mr. Petrello’s actions or the arguments he presented. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s decision that Petrello’s claims were “groundless”. Petrello was ordered to pay the Pruckas nearly $450,000 in attorney’s fees and about $390,000 to the Naths.
As a reminder, Petrello is the successor to former Nabors CEO, Eugene Isenberg. Isenberg made local headlines earlier this year when he backed away from plans to accept a $100 million severence package. Apparently there’s some rarefied air in the corporate offices of Nabors Industries, at least the local Houston offices anyway. Nabors moved their corporate headquarters to Bermuda back in 2002 so they could pay lower U.S. taxes.
If you’re wondering how a guy could rationalize an attempt to obstruct a legitimate home sale, this Vanity Fair piece detailing Anthony Petrello’s involvement in a Hamptons land deal gone bad provides some rather telling insight.
You can read the court’s decision here….
Opinion Unpublished and Judgment Affirmed in Favor or Appellees (5th Circuit – Federal Court) File