A couple who pledged to build a home in north central San Antonio won a court victory on Wednesday when a judge stopped the homebuilder from selling the property to another buyer.

Visiting State District Judge Larry Noll granted Robert and Karen Rickman a request for a temporary injunction that restrains the home at 24442 Canyon Row from being sold by contractor Haitham Taleb or his companies.

“You can’t foreclose and you can’t sell this property,” Noll said. “There’s an owner of the property sitting here and he can hear me, so if he does, I would consider it contempt of court.”

Taleb wanted to sell the house to another buyer for about $525,000 on Wednesday, even though the Rickmans had entered into a contract in April 2018 for one of Taleb’s companies to build the house for $439,000.

The Rickmans are “relieved” that Taleb and his companies are being blocked from selling the couple’s “dream retirement home”, their lawyer Matthew Swantner said after the hearing.

“To this day, the Rickmans don’t understand why Mr. Taleb thinks he has the right to take almost $450,000 from them, use that money to build their house, and then try to sell the house to someone. another,” Swantner said.

William Sommers, a lawyer for Taleb, alleged the Rickmans told his client over the summer that they no longer wanted the house. Taleb therefore sought to sell the home to another party to mitigate the damage resulting from the construction delays caused by the Rickmans, the attorney said. They blamed the delays on the builder.

The Rickmans, both 67, sued Taleb and three of his companies last month for breach of contract and violations of the state’s Deceptive Marketing Practices Act.

The injunction remains in effect until the end of the case.

To ensure the home is not sold, the judge denied the defendants’ request to expunge a “notice of Lis Pendens” that the Rickmans filed with the Bexar County Clerk’s office. Lis pendens is Latin for “pending lawsuit,” and such a notice may affect title to a property.

“If they sell it, that person (the buyer) becomes a party to that lawsuit,” Noll said. “Who wants to buy a pig in a poke? Nobody wants to do that. You must therefore honor this lis pendens as it currently exists.

Noll also decided that the Rickmans will have to arbitrate their dispute with Taleb’s Land Star Builder. The construction contract specifies that any dispute must be arbitrated rather than litigated.

On November 2, Judge Tina Torres issued a temporary restraining order blocking the sale of the property and ordered the Rickmans to post $500 bond.

Noll raised bail to $7,500, although Sommers requested that it be set at $104,000. The attorney described that amount as what the new buyer agreed to pay in addition to the purchase price of the Rickmans.

What remains unclear is how a Miami lender who lent $230,000 to Taleb and one of his companies might act in response to Wednesday’s ruling blocking the sale. The loan, made by Amadco Inc. in August 2020, is secured by the property.

Delays caused by the Rickmans led Taleb to borrow money to complete the house, Sommers said.

Amadco was supposed to have been paid from the proceeds of the sale that was to take place with the other buyer on Wednesday.

“We don’t control the lender,” Sommers told the judge. “If he thinks he (the loan) is in default, there is no way we can prevent him from starting foreclosure proceedings.”

Taleb did not receive notice from Amadco that it was accelerating the note, Sommers said. If that happens, the judge advised Sommers to alert the Rickmans’ lawyers.

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