Property Owner Wins Round in Court in Spat Over Mansion Lease to NBA Star

Taylor Martinez & City News Service

A homeowner who sued James Harden and others over a contractual dispute related to a Beverly Hills mansion the Houston Rockets guard leased in 2019 won a round when a judge ruled the Brooklyn Nets star was properly served with the summons by publication in two states.

George Santoprieto’s suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2019, states that Harden paid $82,200 to stay for a week at the home contingent on him not having more than seven guests. But Harden had multiple parties during the lease term in which he had more than 15 people, the property was damaged during his stay and Santoprieto’s relationship with the homeowners association was negatively affected, according to his court papers.

In an April 6 ruling, Judge Robert S. Draper rejected Harden’s claims that Santoprieto did not make sufficient efforts to serve the 31-year-old NBA shooting guard in person before posting the summons in legal publications in California and Texas, where Harden lives and formerly played for the Houston Rockets.

“The court finds that based on the sum of the evidence presented, including plaintiff’s pre-service research and the fact that Harden is a public figure, plaintiff exercised reasonable diligence in attempting to locate Harden and in attempting personal service at Harden’s last known address before resorting to notice by publication,” Draper wrote.

The judge also repudiated Harden’s arguments that the onetime Artesia High School student was not likely to receive notice of the suit because the summons in both cases was published in a legal newspaper and that the complaint should have been published along with the summons.

By publishing the summons in publications in two states, Santopietro went beyond what is required by the statute, Drapter wrote.

Santopietro also is suing Jeff Wiseman and Solimar Management Co., who allegedly signed the contract with the plaintiff for Harden’s occupancy of the home.

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