Orphans sue Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

By Lila Holland

Aug 11, 2005

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been sued by a family of five orphans who claim that they were denied the new home promised to them by producers of the show.

The five Higgins children lost both of their parents in early 2004 when their mother died of breast cancer and their father of heart failure. The orphans were later taken into the home of the Leomitis family, who were acquainted with the Higgins clan through church.

After ABC producers learned of the children's misfortune, they stepped in to replace the Leomitis home with a nine-bedroom mansion. They also showered the Leomitis and Higgins families with gifts such as cars, computers, stereos, and groceries. Pardee Homes--the company that built the new house--paid off the mortgage in full, but allowed the Leomitises to retain the property's title.

According to the Higgins family, the trouble began immediately after construction of the house and production of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition episode concluded. The Leomitises allegedly launched "an orchestrated campaign" to drive the Higgins children out of their new home by battering them with verbal insults, racial epithets, and physical abuse. By the end of March, the Higginses had moved out of the Leomitis abode, and are currently scattered among the houses of other friends.

In a complaint filed Wednesday, the Higgins children claim that the Leomitis family used the orphans to increase their chances of being chosen to appear on the show. They also accused ABC of fraud and breach of contract. "We were promised a new home," says eldest sibling Charles Higgins II. "They broke that promise."

The network will not respond to questions about the lawsuit, but did release a statement saying, "It is important to note that the episode was about the rebuilding of the Leomitis family's existing home to accommodate the inclusion of the five Higgins siblings, whom the Leomitis had invited into their lives following the death of their parents."

Patrick Mesisca, lawyer for the Higginses, acknowledges that ABC never made a written promise to the children, but believes that the network's statements and actions were promise enough.

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  • ChristineJohn Jan 24, 2012

    I'm embarrassed that the human race has come to this. I agree with the 22 yr old needing to get out there and take responsibility, but i also think that the Higgins family should've been given the house. One of them was an adult, NOT A CHILD. Although, the thing that pains me, is the fact that we as people seem to want to sue people all the time over the dumbest of things. This wasn't dumb, but i, for one, would not have taken anyone to court. I would've stepped up to the plate, and provided for my family myself. Instead of expecting someone to give it to me. I have four kids of my own, and we rent a 2 bedroom trailer. One of them was born with birth defects, one of them I lost only 25 days after he was born, and I have Fibromyalgia. But you don't see me going to someone and asking for a hand out, or suing someone just because it would be easier to get money that way. No, I fight for everything that I want, or have, or need, and that's what I think the Higgins family should do. Because then, they could look back and say 'we did that with no one's help, and we made it to where we are today.' That is much more satisfying then suing someone for money so you can get a house for your family. I understand they lost their parents, but there are other people out there that have had bad things like that, or worse, happen to them. And I bet that not all of them are asking for hand outs. But that is how I feel, and it is only my opinion.

  • Lauren1224 Jul 25, 2011

    I REALLY FEEL BAD FOR THE HIGGINS FAMILY AS WELL AS EXTREME MAKEOVER.iTS UNFORTUNATE THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD THAT PREY ON THE KlNDNESS OF OTHERS,THE LEOMITIS FAMILY SHOULD BE VERY ASHAMED OF THEIR DECEITFUL BEHAVIOR!

  • Reallyok May 21, 2010

    Whatever! The only deep pole anyone is in is Joshua and Jeremiah. You want to know what kind of people the Higgins kids are. Go to Los Angeles county inmate information and type in Jeremiah and Joshua Higgins. They were just arrested on May 6th in Downey. Both have been charged with felonies. Joshua's bail is set at $1,115,000.00 and Jeremiahs at $80,000.00. I'm suspecting they were the two individuals arrested in Downey for burglarizing someone's home. Check it out it's in the Downey newspaper crime section. May 6th. WOW! Nice. If they've always had good character and were raised to be productive citizens then why are they in Jail? Can't blame the Leomiti's. They got them as adults and late teens. Hmmm somethings fishy here. I guess the Leomiti's were right after all. Can't fix what's already broken. Hey well at least they tried. As for the other families who proclaim to have loved them so much I ask you this. Where is the love now? Oh wait the kids didn't get anything out of this lawsuit so I guess they mean nothing to you now. Nice. So I guess I have to agree with Charis..I mean "Princesssc20210" Karma did come back and bite someone in the butt...BUT it wasn't the Leomiti's!

  • PrincessC2010 Apr 24, 2010

    Its funny because karma came back to bite the Leomiti family in the butt! They recently lost the case against the Higgins family. Yeah the case against ABC was thrown out a long time ago but I am glad that the Leomitis had to pay for all the crap they put the Higgins family through. God knew the truth all along. What a horrible, disgusting, selfish, money hungry, careless, heartless family the Leomitis are. Those kids lost their parents and you go and take what happiness they had away from them. Too bad you guys are the ones in the deep hole.

  • EmmynmargeAvi Apr 02, 2010

    I just want to comment on this story its so sad that this family gets what they wish for when it was intended for the whole family(both families) and they cant appreciate it I live in a mobile home that is 16*80 with two teenagers and two dissable kids age 6 and 2 and the worst part is that all i have is a three bedroom MOBILE HOME AND THE SMALL CHILDREN SLEEP WITH MY HUSBAND AND I..... I WOULD BE HAPPY WITH A STORAGE ROOM FOR THEIR SUPPLIES OMG PEOPLE !!!!

  • taytayschild Jan 09, 2009

    Some people are never satified

  • dogbarks3x Jan 30, 2008

    stillno40acres, did you not do your research on this case? the family is samoan...not white. but you go ahead and blame white people. it's easy and expected.

  • dogbarks3x Jan 30, 2008

    stillno40acres, did you not do your research on this case? the family is samoan...not white. but you go ahead and blame white people. it's easy and expected.

  • dogbarks3x Jan 30, 2008

    stillno40acres, did you not do your research on this case? the family is samoan...not white. but you go ahead and blame white people. it's easy and expected.

  • barbara3834 Mar 26, 2007

    I love the show Extreme makeover: Home Edition ,they do alot of good for people who really need it.I feel sorry for the Higgins family,but I think they are suing the wrong people, they should be suing the Leomitises family because they are the ones who kick them out of the house after it was built for them. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition came in to build the home for both families so they could live together as one family. It was not right for the Leomitises family to kick the Higgins Kids out of the home .If anyone should of left it should of been the Leomitises. barbara3834

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