You don’t get many stories in Louisville, Kentucky juicier than this one.
A social-page couple who purchased one of the most expensive estates in Glenview now is being sued by the equally high-profile seller over an alleged violation of their deal.
Real estate executive John Lenihan is suing former RecoverCare CEO Mark Bidner and his wife Merideth over the purchase of a 5.6-acre Glenview estate the Bidners bought last year from Lenihan for $4.4 million.
One of the many insiders who brought the case to Insider Lousiville’s attention said, ”This would make a great movie, but that’s as much as I can say right now.”
The dispute centers around their deal, in which Lenihan – who owns the Sotheby’s International Realty franchise for Louisville – partially financed the Bidners’ purchase of the property at 4008 Glenview Ave.
In the case filed Feb. 21, Lenihan’s suit states that when the Bidners signed a promissory note for $2.24 million, the note contained a key stipulation they not encumber the mortgage without Lenihan’s written permission.
That is, the Bidners wouldn’t use the property as collateral for a second mortgage – a subordinate loan – on the property.
Court records and Jefferson County Clerks records document that the Bidners took out a $2.5 million second mortgage on September 23, 2011, about seven months after they purchased the estate on Feb. 2, 2011.
Because they did – Mark Bidner’s company, Wound Co. is the mortgagor – Lenihan claims he has the right to accelerate the loan, demanding the Binders pay in full the $2.24 million note. If not, he’s asking the property be sold in Jefferson Circuit Court foreclosure auction.
But in this case, Lenihan is charging the couple with a non-monetary default. That is, Lenihan alleges the Bidners violated the terms of the contract, not that they haven’t paid the monthly interest payments on the promissory note, which is due in full in March 2013.
Lenihan declined to discuss the suit.
Bidner attorney Jon Goldberg, managing partner of Goldberg Simpson, said Mark Bidner is out of the country and unavailable for comment. Goldberg counters that Lenihan not only knew the couple would encumber the property, but Lenihan used part of the money to renovate the house per the Bidners’ instructions.
According to Jefferson County Property Valuation Administator records, Lenihan spent more than $300,000 on improvements on the property,
“We know he knew about it,” Goldberg said. “Our question is, ‘Why is he bringing this up?’ Is it so he can be paid the full amount now?”
Goldberg added his firm has until next Tuesday to file the Bidners’ response to Lenihan’s suit: “Our response will further illustrate the details of the situation.”
“Why now?” is precisely the question we’re asking ourselves. How did a dispute like this between such high-profile people not get settled before it became public?
The estate – which is Louisville’s second most expensive existing home sale we could find in the last decade – sits in the middle of Louisville’s most exclusive enclave, Glenview. A neighborhing estate is owned by Edith Bingham, widow of Barry Bingham, Jr., the last Bingham to oversee the family media empire before it was parceled out to McLean, Va.-based Gannett Co. Inc and San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications.
There are not too many people who’ve been in the social-register pages of the St. Matthews Voice-Tribune more often than Mark Bidner and Merideth Bidner. Their nearly every move at fundraisers and parties warrants coverage, including Merideth Bidner’s birthday in February, 2011:
Each year, whether we like it or not, we all have a birthday. We all know that birthdays are an important celebration of life as they mark the milestones and footprints of our lives. One of the greatest gifts we can bestow on our friends and loved ones is getting together to celebrate the occasion. It makes them feel important and is a reminder that their existence in our lives has meaning. It’s their day, but it is our opportunity to show our appreciation for their friendship. So what better way to guarantee Merideth Bidner’s birthday was memorable than to rock the night away with Kid Rock?
Lenihan and his wife Elizabeth Lenihan also are regulars on the society pages. The couple’s 15th wedding anniversary in January got a full page of coverage in the Voice-Tribune including wedding details:
Later, John took Elizabeth, her mother and the friend who introduced the pair to New York to pick out an engagement ring. After Elizabeth stopped by Vera Wang to find her wedding dress, she was then forced to face the most difficult part: planning a wedding in less than three months.
By comparison, the Lenihans’ and Bidners’ business lives have been mostly ignored by the conventional media. But the suit comes about seven months after Bidner left the CEO position at RecoverCare.
RecoverCare, which sells special hospital beds and other equipment used to treat obese people and high-risk patients, is owned by the mortgagee in the suit, Wound Co., which consists of Bidner and other investors.
However, an employee at RecoverCare, where Bidner is listed as chairman emeritus, told Insider Louisville Bidner is no longer associated with the company.
Bidner stepped down last September in favor of Mary Zappone. The move came about two years after Louisville-based MedaSTAT was rolled into RecoverCare, which had been based in Radnor, Pa. outside Philadelphia by the private investment firm Bidner headed at the time, Hollywood Capital Inc., based in Los Angeles.
On the RecoverCare website, Bidner is listed as president of Hollywood Capital. But the phone number for Hollywood Capital listed in court documents has been disconnected.
Wound Co. is listed as being registered in Delaware, but has no physical address. In turn, it is part of Aurora Capital Group.
However, the Los Angeles-based private investment group has no public telephone number, only a secure dial-in line.
More as we know more.