It’s been nearly two years since the city-parish filed a lawsuit to rescind a controversial $10,000 land sale of a prominent corner lot in Baton Rouge, but the matter still hasn’t been resolved.
The last major development was in January when a state district judge overruled an exception filed by buyer Radu Cosman’s attorney, Loren Kleinpeter, who argued the law allowing sellers to rescind land sales doesn’t apply to government actions.
The ruling allowed the lawsuit to proceed.
The attorney representing the city-parish, Mary Olive Pierson, says Cosman and his attorney now have two ways out of this—either Cosman returns the property to the city-parish and gets his $10,000 back, or he pays the rest of the appraised value and keeps the land.
“My next move will be to write a letter to the judge and ask for a motion for summary judgment,” Pierson says, “because the facts are not in dispute.”
As first reported by Daily Report in 2017, the city-parish sold the 50,000-square-foot lot at the corner of Jefferson Highway and Bluebonnet Boulevard to Cosman for $10,000 in an auction at which he was the lone bidder. After news of the deal broke, the city-parish ordered an appraisal and found it to be worth an estimated $605,800.
The city-parish filed suit on Aug. 18, 2017, to rescind the sale based on lesion beyond moiety, a principle in the state civil code that gives a seller one year to recover a piece of land if it was sold for less than half of the fair market value.
Following a state audit that said the city-parish may have violated the state constitution in a number of land deals, including Cosman’s, the parish attorney’s office determined the only option is for Cosman to pay the appraised amount or rescind the sale.
Kleinpeter has not returned requests for comment.
Last summer, before filing the exception, Kleinpeter said his client offered to settle by paying some additional money, not the full appraised value, but the city-parish did not accept.