While I no longer regularly update this website, the discussion threads on many posts remain quite active. The site was recently hacked, but after a few updates, I’ve managed to restore all the content. I even updated the design.
Some of our most popular discussions are:
- Anyone purchased Armando Montelongo’s Real Estate Package?
- Samuel Leccima of ATL Season 2 Cast – Real Estate License Revoked
- Mike Voss Reviews Armando Montelongo’s E-book
- 4th Circuit: Trademark Victory Affirmed
Much of the discussion centers around programs, books and other materials designed to teach real estate investing, remodeling and other ways to make money. Keep in mind that many of these programs, while heavily marketed, are often simply ploys to take your money. Take some time, when considering participation in any program, to evaluate whether the expense matches the potential reward. Look for negative reviews of the programs or materials and don’t trust the promises and guarantees offered by slick salesmen.
After considerable delay, an opinion has been issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Trademark v. A&E Case:
Plaintiff Richard C. Davis approached Defendant A&E Television Networks with the concept that he maintains became the reality television series “Flip This House.” This dispute arises out of the parties’ disagreement over an alleged oral agreement to split equally net revenues of the show. Plaintiff sued Defendant in state court for breach of that oral contract in 2006, demanding approximately $7.5 million in damages, i.e., half of the net revenues from the three seasons that had completed filming prior to trial. … After five days of trial in South Carolina federal district court, a jury returned a verdict awarding Plaintiff a little over $4 million, essentially half of the first season’s net revenues. The district court subsequently denied Defendant’s motions for judgment as a matter of law and a new trial pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b) and Fed. R. Civ. P.59, respectively. Defendant argues we should reverse and direct judgment in its favor because the evidence was legally insufficient to support a finding of an oral contract under New York law or, alternatively, order a new trial because of claimed errors in jury instructions and evidentiary rulings. … After careful review of the record submitted on appeal, we affirm the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motions for judgment as a matter of law and a new trial.
There are some interesting excerpts from the transcript in the opinion, including details of the negotiation that resulted in the 50/50 deal (after expenses, which would be fronted by Trademark) between Trademark and A&E. It’s also fun reading about verbal contracts.
The dissent identifies one of the most critical issues that resulted in a Trademark win, “A&E bears significant responsibility for the failure to reduce a contract memorializing its understanding to writing.” If there is anything to be learned from this event, it’s that reducing an agreement to writing is a very good thing.
The agreement still balances on the shaky assertion that “Okay, okay, I get it,” during a phone call indicated A&E’s agreement to the 50/50% split, but the overwhelming weight of the other evidence and the fact that the parties seemed to act as if they had an agreement seems to have pushed the decision in favor of Trademark.
Hopefully this is the end of the case. A&E should take their licking and move on. I have a feeling that Richard Davis will put the money to good use, but that he probably would have preferred to keep making television.
I personally would like to see some follow up on the people involved in Flip This House – including the new casts. An interesting show could be made explaining how the various casts have handled the bubble crashing. A special episode could focus on people taken in by some of the hucksters like Armando Montelongo. The stories I’ve received and things posted in the comments over the past few years make it clear that there are many hardworking people out there who are easily led down unwise financial paths. I’m sure there are some successes, but the disasters make for interesting lessons too.
[Hat Tip to the Entertainment Law Update Podcast]
Late last night, Richard & Ginger sent out an update for their new radio program. The show appears daily at 9AM Eastern.
You can listen (and watch) online. He doesn’t appear to be trying to sell books and tapes, but is instead open to questions from people who are trying to make a living buying and selling real estate.
Jim The Realtor has a three part series of interviews with flipper Adam Rappoport (known online as “SD Realtor“). He has been buying at the courthouse and flipping, and offers his advice and input. He’s purchased seven and closed three thus far.
The Real Estate Pros (Team Trademark) will be back on TLC starting July 21.
But, even more concerned about the numerous people who contact me because they are dissatisfied with the Armando’s program, who never receive what they were sold, or who find themselves with nothing but maxed out credit cards, a 100 point hit to their credit score and the inability to obtain a loan.
Several have asked about a class action, and while I do not handle class action cases, I will be happy to publish contact information for an attorney wishing to pursue the case.
One of the people who emailed suggested contacting your state’s Attorney General:
… I finally was able to speak to the consumer complaint center in my area. I was told that the best thing I could do at this point was to contact my credit card companies and have them investigate the matter. No guarantee of a refund. However, they did instruct me to contact the Tx. Attorney General where I live, and to file a complaint with them. They also told me to do the same with the Attorney General in Utah, where the program is based.
If enough people complained to the Attorney General, then they would launch their own investigation and if necessary, take action. This may be helpful info to anyone else who contacts you with complaints about this program.
Even though we all live in different states, their program is based out of Draper, Utah. If everyone contacted the Utah Attorney General maybe something can be done to benefit the people who have wasted their money and keep more people from making the same mistake. …
Others, like MV from Dallas, are posting on message boards:
… I responded to his radio ad for the “free” DVD, and subsequently accepted his Flip and Grow Rich package for a 30 day trial. The material is crap, not worth the $400 price tag (5 credit card charges of $79.95) by a long shot, barely worth $10. As an example, you make your money when you buy right, and foreclosures are the best place to buy. This wonderful program contains a whopping 5 paragraphs on foreclosures. Basically, it says foreclosures are great, you should find and buy them. That’s about it. Nothing on how to use the county clerk’s records, or even that the clerk is where you can look. But the real winner is how they cram the program down your throat. If you are even one day over when their tracking program says it was placed in your mailbox, you are stuck with it and they will not allow you to return it. They also fight any disputes on payment, and the person you talk to in the sales office is also the supervisor (no matter who you speak to), and the only person higher to speak with is Armando, and he doesn’t speak to anyone. These are some real pieces of canine excrement, /Caveat Emptor/ doesn’t even begin to cover it. …
A nice lady from Houston sends me her review of his book:
First, I’m very impressed with how Armando and his wife had nothing, moved to Texas and built a wondrous fortune. Certainly, the American dream! However, watching them I also often think he could be far more professional rather than as brusk as he gets with people whom he embarrasses on national TV.
I watch the program from time to time…and when they announced the book, I got on-line and ordered it (Flip and Grow Rich). It took about 3 weeks to receive, so when it did come, I was eager to start reading it. It didn’t take more than a few pages to realize that something was wrong with the way the publisher had put the book together and then bound it.
If you are reading anything on the left side page, whether the paragraph completes or not, you can’t continue reading what was on that page on the next page but instead have to turn the right page over to read the left page completion on, the next left page.
Every left page has 1 thing on it and every right page has something else on it.
The pages are correctly numbered but someone evidently wasn’t paying attention to the subject matter, nor do I believe they even went to not only an American school, but any school. They made a major mistake the way they published it.
I called every number I could find and couldn’t get anyone to help me. Finally I got back on line and through the web site, was able to get a message to one of Armando’s many many offices…and someone who calls himself “Merlin” wrote me back.
I explained the problem and Merlin told me to return it and he would send me another. I sent the book back UPS, spending my own money ($8.50 approx). After a week I began writing to ask if they had received it and when was I going to get my new, correctly published book. Didn’t hear a word for weeks, despite I began writing notes several times a week. Finally, last week I was notified the book was on its way, with a tracking number. The first tracking number didn’t work…so I wrote again and Merlin said they were sending the new book and included the tracking number.
I finally got the 2nd book after waiting over 3 weeks this past Thursday, and I’m very sad to tell you but this book is also published incorrectly. I don’t know what school the publisher went to but I sure didn’t learn to read the way this book is published.
I called a number in the back of the book today and reached someone in customer service in Utah, who acted surprised that the book was bound incorrectly. He wasn’t able to help me but transferred me to someone named Helen (her voicemail) and I left a message to call me Monday…as well as why I was calling.
I’m sure the book is as interesting as Armando and his wife are on their program, but how in the World are we to learn with this type of mistake? Also, I attempted to locate the publisher but the information in the front of the book has none, making me believe Armando had it published privately…to save money????? I presume!
I was going to purchase the Master Course, but have now decided against it. I am certain the World is filled with experts on the subject and after this fiasco, I have no trust in Armando or his many companies. HOW does anyone ever personally reach him or his wife?
But, the thing that tops it all are Armando’s own emails. They all have weird characters and spelling in an attempt to avoid spam filters, because they are, in fact, spam:
Mark Last Day to Get Fore/closures and Grow Ri/ch…
Armando Montelongo to Mark
May 8 (5 days ago)
Shhhh, there is a secret
message at the end of this
Today is the last day to get
MAKING MILLIONS IN FORE/CLOSURES
Right now, I have students all over
the country making lots of c/a/sh in
the fore/closure market.
After today, this is GONE!!!
Secret Message: I will finance the E-book for you
if you act now!
Armando Montelongo, President
Armando Montelongo Worldwide, Inc.
Mark Am I Renewing Flip This House and Investment Info…
Armando Montelongo to Mark
9:02 AM (11 hours ago)
I will be holding a teleconference about
retiring your existing retirement
accounts and learning how to passively earn…
UP TO 12% RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENTS!!!
It’s a totally informative phone call
and it’s totally F/R/EE!!!
Also, there is nothing to buy,
just educating you on how to…
STOP LOSING M/O/NEY IN YOUR:
Click below to register for the F/r/ee
I will be making an announcement about
my contract with Flip This House on Thursday.
Click below for details:
Armando Montelongo, President
Armando Montelongo Worldwide, Inc.
So, buyers beware.
I just received word that the jury came back with a $4,000,000 verdict for Trademark Properties and Richard Davis in their dispute with A&E Television Networks.
Congratulations, Richard and the Team Trademark!
EDIT (3:52PM): The Charleston Post and Courier has an update-
A federal jury in Charleston awarded real estate investor Richard C. Davis more than $4 million in damages today in a trial stemming from the “Flip This House” reality television series.
Davis sued cable network A&E, saying he had an oral agreement with A&E to split revenues from the program he created. Davis, of James Island-based Trademark Properties Inc., said he was never paid.
A&E disputed that any agreement existed. Its lawyers declined to provide immediate comment on the ruling, which came after more than five hours of deliberation.
“I’m very pleased with the verdict,” said Mount Pleasant attorney Frank M. Cisa, who represented Davis. “These cases are very tough to prove.”
For more details, see Thursday’s Post and Courier.
The Charleston Post and Courier continue their coverage with reports on Friday and Monday. The case is now in the hands of the jurors. Because of the holiday, deliberation will resume on Wednesday.
From “Witness denies any 50/50 deal“:
For days the jury in a breach of contract trial between local real estate magnate Richard Davis and television network A&E has heard over and over about a man named Charles Norlander.
Davis alleges that he and Norlander hatched the 50/50 profit split for the show “Flip This House” in a verbal agreement at the heart of Davis’ lawsuit.
Friday, a man with a goatee and Harry Potter-styled spectacles took the witness stand and repeatedly denied any such conversation ever took place.
Norlander testified that, though he no longer worked for A&E when Davis began threatening to pull out of the show, he encouraged Davis to resolve his differences with the network before it replaced him. He added that he did not know what, specifically, was bothering Davis.
“In terms of what he was looking for, I had no better idea at the end of that conversation than I had at the beginning of it,” Norlander said.
He testified that he never heard of the 50/50 split until he learned Davis filed a lawsuit.
A series of defense witnesses followed Norlander, nearly all making the same point: that Davis never said anything about a profit-sharing deal, and neither did they.
Max Weissman of Departure Films, the third-party production company which still makes “Flip This House,” testified that he suggested Davis ask for compensation from A&E.
“He kept saying he wasn’t interested, that it was small potatoes,” Weissman said.
But Weissman also testified that Davis wanted to see Departure Films’ contract with A&E, which held a confidentiality clause Weissman was unwilling to breach.
Asked whether Davis had a profit-sharing deal with A&E, Weissman replied, “He complained endlessly that he didn’t.”
During cross-examination, Cisa pointed out that Weissman spent no time on location in South Carolina during production of “Flip This House” and that Departure Films grew exponentially because of the series.
Cisa suggested that Weissman, now in the midst of producing the fourth season of “Flip This House,” learned everything he knows about real estate from Davis.
In court documents, A&E has disclosed that the show generated about $13.7 million in revenue and $5.9 million in expenses its first season.
Davis has testified he was never paid for his efforts toward “Flip This House,” which often demanded 80 hours of his time per week. He also was never reimbursed for an estimated $92,000 in expenses, he said.
From “Attorney: A&E owes $7.5M“:
In closing arguments before a federal jury, attorney Frank Cisa said cable television network A&E owes his client, local real estate investor Richard C. Davis, more than $7.5 million in a profit-sharing arrangement attached to the reality show “Flip This House.”
“He had the pilot (episode) in one hand. He had the Writers Guild registration in the other hand. And they never asked Richard Davis what he wanted for his show?” Cisa said in closing arguments. “They knew he spent $85,000 on the pilot and never asked what he wanted for his show? … I submit to you that’s not credible.”
A&E’s New York-based attorney, Jeremy Feigelson, began his closing remarks the same way the network’s local defense attorney, Richard Farrier, began his opening arguments. “No way,” Feigelson said.
He suggested that Davis and Charles Norlander, the A&E representative with whom Davis claims to have made the verbal deal, were “ships in the night” that never quite reached the same point.
“Can you picture a conversation where Mr. Davis talked on and on, maybe talked at Charles … and he persuaded himself he’s come away with an agreement?” Feigelson said.
He told the jury that Davis never shared with them any specifics from the conversation with A&E that allegedly hatched the deal.
Prior to closing arguments, Monday marked the first time in the weeklong trial in which A&E employees acknowledged any mention of a potential 50-50 profit-splitting arrangement prior to the lawsuit.
Cisa produced a copy of an e-mail between Davis and the network with the term “50 percent” handwritten in the margin. But A&E representative Melinda McLaughlin testified she made that note only as the amount Davis proposed he receive on advertising revenue he helped bring for the show, not as an agreed-upon amount.
“I let him know that it would be single digits so he wouldn’t be surprised to see the final (figure),” McLaughlin said.
Below where she marked Davis’ 50 percent suggestion, McLaughlin also made a note to herself: “No way!”
Allyson Bird at the Charleston Post and Courier continues with her reporting:
A&E’s New York-based attorney Jeremy Feigelson worked to disprove Davis’ claim that his Trademark Properties and the network verbally agreed to a 50-50 profit split from the reality series “Flip This House.”
“The agreement we’re talking about is an agreement in your mind?” Feigelson asked.
Davis calmly replied that it was “absolutely an agreement” he had with an A&E representative. Finally, after more than 10 hours of testimony spread over three days, he lost his patience.
Responding to one question, David raised his voice and said, “It’s my possession. You stole it. … You stole my possession.”
While on the stand Davis made several jurors chuckle as he shared his inexperience with the legal system.
“This is the first time I’ve sued. I don’t know how this works,” he said. “This is the last time. This is miserable.”
Cisa called his second and final witness, Trademark Properties Inc. investment coordinator Ginger Alexander, who was often featured on “Flip This House.”
She testified that the firm’s normal business took longer because of the series and that, overall, the company lost money creating episodes of the show because it still holds a few unsold properties.
Feigelson asked if the lack of demand for the unsold properties could be attributed to a downturn in the real estate market and not “Flip This House.”
Alexander said the market spoiled one sale, but she blamed the show for hindering the sale of a home originally listed at $1.8 million.
She said a rodent infestation at the home when Trademark Properties acquired it was exploited during the post-production process, even though the problem had been fixed.
“It’s hard to sell a house after you show a bunch of rats running around,” she said.
Allyson Bird at the Charleston Post and Courier continues with her excellent reporting on the Trademark Trial. Some excerpts:
Davis claims A&E violated a verbal agreement to split any revenue after expenses from the “Flip This House” TV show that documented Davis’ risk-taking real estate business, Trademark Properties Inc. Davis’ testimony took nearly all of Wednesday, the second day in the jury trial in U.S. District Court.
Davis asserted he was never paid for his efforts toward “Flip This House,” which often demanded 80 hours of his time per week. He also was never reimbursed for an estimated $92,000 in expenses, he said.
He testified that he was told the first episode drew nearly 1 million viewers with no promotion outside of A&E.
But when Davis asked for rough cuts of the show or a copy of a contract from a third-party production company, he encountered roadblocks, he said. By then the person with whom he said he made the verbal agreement for the 50-50 revenue split no longer worked for A&E.
That man, Charles Norlander, called Davis “Crazy Richard” in an e-mail to an A&E representative and offered to speak with Davis after Davis threatened to shut down the show.
“Knowing his ego, he probably really believes that you wouldn’t/couldn’t do the show without him,” Norlander wrote.
In court documents, A&E disclosed that the show generated about $13.7 million in revenue and $5.9 million in expenses its first season; $9.3 million in revenue and $4.6 million in expenses its second season; and $11.8 million in revenue and $9.9 million in expenses its third season.