LOS ANGELES – A homeowner who sued James Harden over a contractual dispute related to a Beverly Hills mansion the NBA star leased in 2019 lost a round in court Thursday when a judge ruled that the Philadelphia 76ers guard was not properly served with the summons.
George Santoprieto’s Los Angeles Superior Court suit 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 at 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 rulings in August of 2020 and again in April of 2021, Judge Robert S. Draper rejected Harden’s claims that Santoprieto did not make sufficient efforts to serve the 33-year-old NBA shooting guard in person before posting the summons in legal publications in California and Texas. Harden lived in Texas while playing for the Houston Rockets, the team to which he was traded in October 2012 by the Oklahoma City Thunder, which had made him the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft.
However, in each case Draper’s rulings were overturned by a panel of the Second District Court of Appeal, which found that attempts to serve Harden at one of two Texas addresses were “ineffective.”
On Thursday, Draper, in granting Harden’s motion to quash, noted that the former star at Artesia High School in Lakewood was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in January 2021 before subsequently being moved to the 76ers in February.
“Any Google search would immediately make it clear that Harden no longer plays for the Houston Rockets,” Draper wrote. “Despite this, all Santopietro’s efforts at serving Harden were focused on Texas addresses.”
It should have been obvious to Santopietro that Harden had moved, at least partially, to New York, after being traded from the Rockets to the Nets, the judge wrote.
“However, Santopietro provides no evidence showing that he attempted to discover Harden’s New York address whatsoever,” according to the judge.
Draper said that even though he had granted Santoprieto’s request in January to serve Harden notice by the alternative method of publication, based on the appellate court’s guidance he found on Thursday that Santopietro had not “demonstrated due diligence to serve Harden before applying for publication.”