Immigrants claim couple defrauded them into home purchase

David Yates Apr. 28, 2008, 10:42am

Not fluent in English, three immigrants are alleging a Nederland couple took advantage of their inability to communicate and duped them into buying a Port Arthur home that had a lien against it.

Lorenzo, Rosa and Henry Watler filed suit against Mark and Carolyn Link on April 24 in the Jefferson County District Court.

According to the plaintiffs' petition, the Watlers are fluent in Spanish but unable to properly speak and read English. Defendant Carolyn Link, who helped broker the real estate deal, speaks Spanish.

On April 26, 2006, the Watlers and Links entered into a contract to sell the Watlers a Port Arthur home. The Watlers were to pay the Links $30,000, with $10,000 as a down payment and the remaining $20,000 being financed by the Links in an owner-finance arrangement, the suit states.

"Pursuant to the contract, closing was to occur on the property on May 25, 2006," the suit says. "At such time, Defendants were to resolve all outstanding liens, if any, and deliver title to the property to the Plaintiffs."

On May 25, 2006, the Watlers obtained a $10,000 cashier's check, and planned to go from the bank to Jefferson County Title Company to complete the closing.

However the plaintiffs claim the Links said they would take the cashier's check to the title company and have the title changed to the Watlers' name.

"Defendants represented that they were good people and that Plaintiffs should trust them, and they would fix up the title. Since that date, Plaintiffs have attempted to obtain a title to the property in question but have been informed by Mark Link that he has used the property as collateral for a loan and cannot convey title to Plaintiffs.

"Defendants' representation that they would provide title to the property to the Plaintiffs was material in that Plaintiffs would not have paid Defendants $10,000.00 as a down payment and $272.67 per month since that date as payments on the $20,000.00 note covering the remaining balance of the sales price."

The Links are husband and wife and the property was owned as community property. At the time the contract for sale was signed, the Links represented that they would deliver a deed to the Watlers, the suit says, adding that "such representation was false."

The three count suit faults the Links with fraud, fraud on real estate transaction and breach of contract.

The Watlers are suing for punitive, actual and consequential damages, plus attorneys' fees.

They are represented by attorney Quentin D. Price of the Barton, Price, McElroy & Townsend law firm.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd Judicial District.

Case No. E181-661

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