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Five Orphans Sue Extreme Makeover

Old 08-12-05, 12:22 PM
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Five Orphans Sue Extreme Makeover

From yahoo:

Five Orphans From Home Makeover Show Sue
Friday August 12 8:53 AM ET

Five orphaned siblings who moved into a new dream home on the hit ABC television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" are suing the network, the company that built the house and the couple who took them in after their parents died.

The children range in age from 15 to 22. They claim that after "Extreme Makeover" built a new nine-bedroom mansion for them to live in with Phil and Loki Leomiti, the Leomitis engaged in "an orchestrated campaign" to drive them away by insulting them and treating them poorly.

The children ultimately moved out of the Leomitis' home in Santa Fe Springs, a small city southeast of Los Angeles, and are living separately with friends, said Charles Higgins II, the eldest sibling.

Their complaint, which was filed Wednesday, alleges fraud and breach of contract. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

"What we're really seeing is the collision between reality TV and the perception reality TV seeks to create in the minds of the general public," said their lawyer, Patrick Mesisca.

ABC said in a statement that "It is important to note that the episode was about the rebuilding of the Leomiti family's existing home to accommodate the inclusion of the five Higgins siblings, whom the Leomitis had invited into their lives following the death of their parents."

People who answered the phone at the Leomitis' home initially said the couple had no comment and later referred questions to ABC and to Endemol USA, the television show's production company. Endemol publicist Melissa Armstrong said the company had not yet reviewed the claim.

The parents of the Higgins children died 10 weeks apart in the spring of 2004 the mother of breast cancer and the father of heart failure. The Leomitis, who knew the children from church, opened their home to them in July 2004, according to the lawsuit.

Producers of "Extreme Makeover" learned of the children's plight from a television newscast.

Workers demolished the Leomitis' house in February and then built the new one. "Extreme Makeover" producers arranged for the siblings to receive cars, groceries, computers, stereos and other gifts.

The builder, Pardee Homes, paid off the mortgage on the new house but the Leomitis retained the title, according to the lawsuit. Around the time the episode first aired in late March, the siblings moved out.

Mesisca, the attorney, acknowledged Wednesday that the siblings were never promised a house in writing. But the network's statements and actions could legally be considered a promise, he said.

"We were promised a home," said Charles Higgins II. "They broke that promise."

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What a bunch of assholes. This is what happens when you try to help people out.
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Old 08-12-05, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by PopcornTreeCt
The children range in age from 15 to 22.
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Old 08-12-05, 12:27 PM
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Wow... talk about not being thankful for what you've been given. They were never entitled to jack. Had the show never rebuilt their house and they all moved out, would they sue their parents for a new house? Please. I bet they all want to keep their stereos and computers and other good stuff they got and paid nothing for.

At least most of the families on that show are genuinely appreciative and don't feel such a sense of entitlement.
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Old 08-12-05, 12:29 PM
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Old 08-12-05, 12:32 PM
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BC said in a statement that "It is important to note that the episode was about the rebuilding of the Leomiti family's existing home to accommodate the inclusion of the five Higgins siblings, whom the Leomitis had invited into their lives following the death of their parents."
This is the catch. That and the fact the children are suing the wrong people. What does ABC have to do with the parents treating them bad? ABC had a contract to tear down a house and rebuild it. They did that. I don't think parental guidance is a part of the deal. For that the kids would have to appear on Nanny 911.

Someone needs to point out that Mr. Higgins II that he didn't own the house that was tore down, so he is entitled to nothing but what he brought in.

I hope there is a judge with a big enough set of balls to throw this out. Frivolous lawsuits. Sheesh.

Last edited by Michael Corvin; 08-12-05 at 12:34 PM.
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Old 08-12-05, 12:33 PM
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I don't understand why they are suing. I guess the writer of the article didnt think it was necessary to explain the "engaged in "an orchestrated campaign" to drive them away by insulting them and treating them poorly." any further.
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Old 08-12-05, 12:37 PM
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That show is so ridiculously stupid. Let's give this family who can't afford to keep up and maintain their 1400 square foot home a 4500 square foot home w/ all of this cool shit inside!!!!!!

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Old 08-12-05, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Mopower
I don't understand why they are suing. I guess the writer of the article didnt think it was necessary to explain the "engaged in "an orchestrated campaign" to drive them away by insulting them and treating them poorly." any further.
He might not be able to, due to pending litigation.

They sound like brats, something the Leomitis may have realized after they all moved in, including the lazy-ass 22-year-old.
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Old 08-12-05, 12:44 PM
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This is just crazy.

I did like that show when it first came on, but I stopped watching it after a while. At first it seemed like a good idea and it appeared that they were about fixing up the house and helping people that were in a bad situation. But as the show become more popular I think that that must have increased the budget they had for each show and then they just went crazy.

Instead of just fixing the leaky roof and moldy bathrooms it seems like every week they simply just come in and demolish the whole house.

I stopped watching when they built a house for a homeless person. To me that wasn't home makeover, that was home MAKE. The people lived in a shelter type unit that was part of a larger complex that housed homeless people temporarily. I think the place had 16 units. Well, what about the other 15 families? They really did up the unit for these people. It is supposed to be a temporary place. What incentive do they now have to get their own place? Their option is to live in this tricked out plasma TV filled unit, or some crappy dump that they can now afford because the father now has a new job given to him by the company that did the work on the unit. Why would they want to move out of that unit?

I have seen several stories now about how the people can't keep up with the houses after the show leaves. The people were poor to begin with, how do they expect them to be able to afford the upkeep on their new McMansion? They can't run the sprinkler systems to maintain the fancy lawns. Can't pay the higher utility bills in the expanded space.

I think the initial shock and awe of "winning" the makeover is short lived in some cases. The only people that probably really really benefit are the ones that have the really rare diseases. I saw one episode where the girl needed an expensive air filtration system and another one where the kid had some brittle bone disease where they made almost everything in the house padded. Those people benefit.
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Old 08-12-05, 12:46 PM
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Oh yeah, and the show is really little more than a hour long commercial for Sears.

Lets show the construction guy cut a 2x4 with a craftsman saw.

lets show the hosts go shopping at sears for pillows.

Lets show a sears delivery truck show up to deliver all the appliances.

Lets show at least one sears commercial in every batch of commercials.
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Old 08-12-05, 12:47 PM
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Someone has to pay for all of that shit.
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Old 08-12-05, 12:50 PM
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The only real complaint they could possibly have is if the Leomitis family intentionally "used them" to get the show to build them a new house, and then purposely made their lives miserable to drive them out. But even then, that's a beef with the family, not with ABC or the producers of the show. And ESPECIALLY not with "the company that built the house".
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Old 08-12-05, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by DRG
The only real complaint they could possibly have is if the Leomitis family intentionally "used them" to get the show to build them a new house, and then purposely made their lives miserable to drive them out. But even then, that's a beef with the family, not with ABC or the producers of the show. And ESPECIALLY not with "the company that built the house".
I think that's what they're saying happened. But I agree, their complaint is with the family, not the tv show.
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Old 08-12-05, 01:00 PM
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My father-in-law just worked on their latest one in Fairfield. CA last week. He said overall, the production crew was pretty cool and it was an amazing experience.
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Old 08-12-05, 07:06 PM
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i think if they were used...to get a new house out of the deal then they should be entitled to half the cost of the rebuilt house
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Old 08-12-05, 07:25 PM
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If I won a house like that and couldn't afford the bills (taxes, utilities, etc.), I would sell it, buy a smaller one, turn a profit to pay off all my debt, and still be able to keep the plasma TV and stuff.
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Old 08-12-05, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Cameron
i think if they were used...to get a new house out of the deal then they should be entitled to half the cost of the rebuilt house
The family didn't go out of their way to apply for the show as would have to be the case if this was their scheme. ABC approached them after a news story
Producers of "Extreme Makeover" learned of the children's plight from a television newscast.
.

So the parents were being generous to the kids before Extreme Makeover was even an option... and then ABC was generous to the entire family... and then the kids did this.
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Old 08-12-05, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Breakfast with Girls
If I won a house like that and couldn't afford the bills (taxes, utilities, etc.), I would sell it, buy a smaller one, turn a profit to pay off all my debt, and still be able to keep the plasma TV and stuff.
Reality TV winners get tax reality check

The producers of "Extreme Makeover" try to lower contestants' tax bills by leasing their property during the two-week renovation and filming. Those renovations are then usually tax-exempt.

This has got to be a huge loophole in the tax code!
I need a kid with no bones whose dog has just gone blind and a SO who has
just returned from Iraq!
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Old 08-12-05, 09:43 PM
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interesting.
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Old 08-12-05, 10:03 PM
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but if the t.v. show built the home for the entire family including the 5 (not so young) children...then aren't they entitled to part of that home if they had been forced out.
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Old 08-12-05, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Cameron
but if the t.v. show built the home for the entire family including the 5 (not so young) children...then aren't they entitled to part of that home if they had been forced out.
Depends on who signed the papers I guess. My money would be on the parents.

Also depends on the circumstances under which they left. Moving out of a home cause you're pissed at your folks, adopted or not, doesn't entitle you to much of anything.
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Old 08-12-05, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Corvin
This is the catch. That and the fact the children are suing the wrong people. What does ABC have to do with the parents treating them bad? ...
I agree, but ABC has deep pockets. They also have (I assume) good attorneys who will have this thrown out.

What the kids are hoping is that ABC will pay them off and move on, but I doubt that ABC does this.

Though what Phil and Loki Leomiti did wasn't good either, taking a rebuilt home and then (per the story) running the kids out. I'd love to hear their side of the story.
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Old 08-13-05, 09:56 AM
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I've often wondered about the legalities / stipulations / contracts with shows like these... Pimp my Ride, Extreme Home Makeover, even Trading Spaces...

Do they have some "clause" that forbids them from selling? Or at least for a certain amount of time? I would think, some of these people would be greedy, get the "work" done, then try to bankroll the profits...
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Old 08-13-05, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Heat
Though what Phil and Loki Leomiti did wasn't good either, taking a rebuilt home and then (per the story) running the kids out. I'd love to hear their side of the story.
since we don't really know what happened we can't assume that they run the children out on purpose. For all you know they were insisting that te older ones got jobs or something.
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Old 08-13-05, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Heat
What the kids are hoping is that ABC will pay them off and move on, but I doubt that ABC does this.
Yeah, the whole thing is too public now. ABC would look far worse by caving in at this point.
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