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Thursday, May 17, 2007

When a Good Deed Goes Wrong: Extreme Makeover-Home Edition

I'm submitting this story to the class for an opinion. I first heard about this matter while listening to Leslie Gold's Radio Chick radio show a few days ago. This case involves two families, The Leomitis and the Higgins (pictured, above). The Higgins are comprised of five children/young adults, ranging in age from 16 to 22. Due to severe tragedy and extreme circumstances, the Higgins children found themselves destitute and almost homeless because of the sudden deaths of both of their parents within a few months of each other. The Higgins' church intervened and took care of the their parents' funeral arrangements. Also through the church, in an act of kindness, the Higgins children were taken in by fellow congregants, The Leomitis. This is where the story gets sketchy, either Extreme Makeover contacted the families or it was the other way around, the Leomitis' (as shown on the March 27th, 2005 episode) home was refurbished to accomodate the combined families.

Here's more on this story from the Digital Journal website:

The Leomitis family signed a contract allowing their home to be rebuilt and a separate contract was signed by both families for rights to their stories.

The families were sent on a Bahamas cruise while it was being built. The house went from a three-bedroom two-bath home to a whopping nine-bedroom six-bath home with a backyard the was Polynesian-themed in celebration of the Leomitis' Samoan heritage.

When the new home was shown to them in Feb 2005 they found that the builder had paid off the mortgage and they had been given other gifts such as 2 years of groceries, computers and six cars, three for each family.

The happiness quickly faded as within a few weeks the oldest Charles and Michael who were 21 and 19 moved out and soon after the other children moved also.

In August a lawyer was hired by the "orphans" to sue the Leomitis family, ABC and its parent Walt Disney Co., "Extreme Makeover" producers and the company that renovated the house.

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages on allegations of fraud,
intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract, although that last count has since been dismissed.
The Higgins family are now claiming that the Leomitis family became greedy and perpetrated deceptions on them. Using racial remarks that insulted and offended them.

Who is right in this case? Did the Leomitis use the Higgins children to get a new house and then kicked them out when they were no longer needed? Or is this a case of children who were disrespectful and didn't want to abide by the rules of the Leomitis household (which is what the Leomitis have stated as to the cause of the riff). What is your opinion? Share your thoughts.

Check below for additional links, concerning this harrowing tale:

A made-for-TV fairy tale becomes nasty in reality

"Extreme Makeover" and Leomitis family face lawsuit from Higgins family

'Extreme Makeover' lawsuit

1 comment:

Steve said...

It's so sad to hear the way the truth gets so twisted, The Pastor of the church who called Extreme homemaker.I live on the same street where the house still stands but with new occupants, The Leomiti family are Samoan with strong religious back ground that have rules,and with Charles being the oldest left the home because of rules he felt shouldnt apply to him being that he is 21 an who has custody of his brothers and sister which he had order them to leave shortly after. The leomitis were recieving threat calls,driveby eggings and Leomiti's got fedup and sold the home so they could move with their lives