Judge Leaning Against Injunctive Relief to Marilyn Monroe Home Owners


Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge indicated Monday he is poised to deny injunctive relief to the owners of Marilyn Monroe's former Brentwood home, who want to block the city from making the residence a historic cultural monument and interfering with the couple's desire to demolish it.

Attorneys for real estate heiress Brinah Milstein and her husband, producer Roy Bank, previously filed court papers with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant in which they say the city is violating the law by trying to give the home historical recognition. The pair bought the residence last July for $8.35 million and have obtained a demolition permit from the city.

According to the Milstein-Bank court papers, the couple will suffer irreparable harm without a preliminary injunction. The petition seeks a court order blocking the monument designation and allowing the plaintiffs to move forward with their planned razing so they can demolish the Monroe structure to expand their current home, which is adjacent to the property.

But on Monday, the judge issued a tentative ruling siding with the city, calling the Milstein-Bank motion an "ill-disguised motion to win so that they can demolish the home and eliminate the historic cultural monument issue."

The couple will not suffer the irreparable harm they claim they will by being denied a preliminary injunction because the City Council will address the issues by the middle of this month, according to Chalfant.

"Simply stating the issue suffices to show that (Milstein and Bank) will suffer virtually no harm," the judge wrote. ` They merely have to wait less than two weeks ...  to find out whether the property will be designated as a Historic Cultural Monument that cannot be demolished.

If a preliminary injunction is granted, Milstein and Bank will use their permit rights to demolish the home and the administrative process, in which the public has an interest, will never be completed, according to Chalfant, who is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday before issuing a final decision.

Bank and Milstein filed the petition May 6, alleging "illegal and unconstitutional conduct" by the city "with respect to the house where Marilyn Monroe occasionally lived for a mere six months before she tragically committed suicide 61 years ago."

In a sworn declaration, Bank says recent publicity about the case has drawn gawkers and traffic to the area's narrow streets.

"As owners of the property, my wife and I cannot even begin to estimate the damage to us and our rights if the city's intended designation of the property goes through," Bank says in a sworn declaration in support of the preliminary injunction. "We will be mired in the heavy burden of owning, perpetually, a tourist magnet creating a circus atmosphere harmful to us and our neighbors."

But in their court papers, lawyers for the City Attorney's Office counter that Bank and Milstein cannot show irreparable harm by speculating that tourists will travel to their neighborhood if the City Council is not enjoined from voting on the issue.

The public flooded city phones and email accounts last September to "express their dismay" at the imminent demolition of the home as well as to express their desire for the city to preserve the property, according to the City Attorney's Office.

Monroe would have been 98 this past Saturday.

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