Mark Gustavsson Lawyers and Solicitors

Hart Luxury Homes issues legal threat against customer frustrated over delays to his Fullarton extension

An Adelaide builder has accused a disgruntled customer of spreading defamatory rumours about his company.
Hart Luxury Homes has threatened a customer with legal action accusing him of spreading false rumours about the company’s financial health.

Hart Luxury Homes’ John Hart has claimed in a letter that Frank Picariello had told other customers and suppliers that the company was insolvent and had been placed in liquidation.

Mr Picariello has denied the allegations.

Mr Hart’s lawyer Mark Gustavsson wrote to Mr Picariello on March 1 demanding he provide an “unequivocal apology” for his alleged conduct or face legal action.

“While we appreciate your concern about your build, we do not appreciate the manner in which you are expressing this concern,” Mr Gustavsson wrote in the letter, a copy he supplied to The Advertiser

“Your actions jeopardise both the personal reputation of Mr Hart and the solvency of Hart Luxury Homes.

“Furthermore, it appears that your behaviour is a deliberate attempt to force Hart Luxury Homes into liquidation. 

“Even if the director has no alternative but to follow such a course of action, for

you to prematurely force a winding up of the company only results in a significantly greater loss to contractors, suppliers and creditors …”

Mr Hart and Mr Picariello entered into a contract on June 23, 2020 for an extension to Mr Picariello’s Fullarton house, according to the letter. 

The project was three weeks behind schedule which Mr Hart blamed on a “lack of supply” of building materials.

“These supply chain issues have been further compounded by larger construction enterprises

having to ‘bulk buy’ the limited supplies available. This is, unfortunately, to the detriment of

smaller residential builders like Hart Luxury Homes,” Mr Gustavsson wrote.

“Due to these supply chain issues, Hart Luxury Homes is currently behind schedule on not only your build but also a full projects portfolio, however in each other case, clients have been supportive and understanding.

“None of them have taken the venomous approach that you have, or have stated that the matter ‘is personal’ as you have.”

He said Mr Hart advises that the company remained solvent “notwithstanding the state wide supply issues which all Australian residential builders currently face”.

Mr Gustavsson also cautioned Mr Picariello against airing his concerns publicly claiming it would be the “death knell” for Mr Hart’s business.

“Should this occur, our clients reserve their full rights to take further legal action against you including, without limitation, commencing proceedings against you for defamation, intimidation, interference with contractual relations, malicious falsehood, wilful trespass and negligent misrepresentation causing economic loss,” he wrote.

Mr Picariello denied all allegations but said he did make “one post” on Hart Luxury Homes’ Facebook page. He said the post had been removed.

“I am now seeking my own legal advice on this matter,” he told The Advertiser not wishing to comment further.

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