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Howard awarded $605,000 over rental house dispute

Jury finds helmer was defrauded by real estate investor

Imagine Entertainment partner and director Ron Howard was awarded $605,000 Monday after a jury found he was defrauded by a Malibu real estate investor.

Howard and his family rented Jeff Greene’s Brentwood home last year during the pre-production stages of “EDtv,” which opens Friday.

But the house sustained leaks that caused flooding during the rainy El Nino season. The building also had other problems and as a result the family had to vacate the home.

Greene sued Howard and Imagine for breach of contract and the remainder of the money due on the lease, but after a three-day trial, the jury found in favor of the Howards and awarded $105,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.

Fraudulent statements

The punitive award was ordered because the jury found Greene made fraudulent statements about the condition of the house before and during the execution of the lease, according to lawyers for Howard.

“From the Howards’ perspective, the case was never about money — they felt strongly that Mr. Greene’s actions were deplorable,” said Imagine counsel Kurt Peterson of Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May.

Howard will donate the money in excess of litigation costs to charity.

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