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Cordoba Initiative Corp. v. Deak

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 26, 2012

CORDOBA INITIATIVE CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
Robert Leslie DEAK, et al., Defendants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Paul L. Knight, Tamir Damari, Nossaman LLP, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Hal J. Perloff, Husch Blackwell, LLP, Washington, DC, Jonathan B. Nelson, Dorf Law Firm LLP, Mamaroneck, MD, for Defendants.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

RICHARD W. ROBERTS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Cordoba Initiative Corporation (" Cordoba" ) filed this lawsuit against Robert Leslie Deak and his wife, Moshira Soliman, alleging that Cordoba was the victim of fraud when Deak misrepresented the value of a condominium unit in the District of Columbia, sold it to Cordoba, and did not transfer the title. Deak and Soliman have moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim, or in the alternative for summary judgment. Because Cordoba pled with sufficient particularity its claims of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation and constructive fraud, and unjust enrichment, but failed to allege a cognizable claim in the count alleging " misrepresentation," Cordoba's motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

Cordoba is a non-profit organization based in Malaysia and dedicated to improving relations among people of all cultures and faiths. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 5. Over the course of five years, Cordoba's principal and president Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf developed a close friendship with Deak and Soliman, who are residents of the District of Columbia. Id. ¶¶ 2, 6. Deak and Soliman attempted to raise funds for Cordoba, acted as advisors to Cordoba and Rauf, and hosted Rauf in their home for over three months in 2010. Id. ¶¶ 7-10. The complaint avers that based on the friendship and support Deak showed Rauf and Cordoba, Deak earned their trust and confidence. Id. ¶ 12.

In 2010, Deak suggested to Rauf that Cordoba purchase a condominium unit located on K Street in Washington, D.C. Compl. ¶ 14-15. During Deak's discussions with Rauf, Deak represented that he had specialized knowledge of the real estate market for the unit, and that Deak's real estate broker had advised him that the unit was worth $1,350,000 and would sell for that price. However, according to the complaint, Deak knew at the time that his representations about the unit's value were false. Id. ¶¶ 16-18. Deak did not disclose to Rauf that Deak and Soliman had purchased that unit less than five months earlier for $567,500. Id. ¶ 15.

In October 2010, Deak e-mailed Rauf asking for a total payment of $1,500,000, with $1,350,000 attributed to the " property" and $150,000 for anything Cordoba wanted done to the apartment (" furnishings, special equipment ..., extra appliances, etc." ) and for Cordoba's general use. Deak stated that the sale of the condominium unit was not a transaction " that we can, nor would we want to, run through attorneys." Compl. ¶ 20. Five days later, Cordoba transferred $1,500,000 [1] by wire to Deak's bank account. According to the complaint, Deak and Soliman failed to prepare a sales contract, failed to give Cordoba a Property Disclosure Statement, and never delivered to Cordoba or Rauf the title to the unit. Id. ¶¶ 21-25.

In February 2011, Cordoba learned that Deak and Soliman had purchased the condominium unit for $567,500 in May 2010. Compl. ¶ 27. Cordoba then asked an independent real estate broker what the asking price of the unit would be. The broker advised that, based on the condominium market in the Georgetown neighborhood of

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Washington, D.C., the initial asking price for the unit would be $799,000. Id. ¶ 28. In March 2011, Cordoba demanded that Deak return to Cordoba the $1,500,000. Deak ...


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