In what sounds like a tale by Charles Dickens, warped to fit the 21st century, five orphaned siblings who thought they had found shelter in a nine-bedroom mansion courtesy of the television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" are suing ABC, the company that built the house and the couple who took them in after their parents died, The Associated Press reported. The children, ranging in age from 15 to 22, contend that the couple, Phil and Loki Leomiti, undertook "an orchestrated campaign," including insults and poor treatment, to drive them from the house. The siblings moved out of the Leomitis' home in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., southeast of Los Angeles, and are living with friends, said Charles Higgins II, the eldest. "What we're really seeing is the collision between reality TV and the perception reality TV seeks to create in the minds of the general public," said their lawyer, Patrick Mesisca. On Wednesday, when the siblings filed a lawsuit charging fraud and breach of contract and seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, he said that they were never promised a house in writing but that the network's statements and actions could be legally construed as a promise. ABC said in a statement, "It is important to note that the episode was about the rebuilding of the Leomiti family's existing home to accommodate the inclusion of the five Higgins siblings, whom the Leomitis had invited into their lives following the death of their parents."What a fabulous fact pattern for a Contracts exam!
An ooh, how fiendish of the Leomitis! They made themselves desirable subjects for the show by taking in five orphans and then.... what did they do? I'm sure they have their side of the story. Five young people aged 15 t0 22 are naturally going to clash with their parents. Too bad there weren't reality show cameras to capture the arguments so we'd know whether it was a a big plot to use the kids for the sole purpose of getting the house done or whether the kids used the house makeover as a weapon against the parents whenever they called for discipline.