Sun City couple awarded $66,000 in faulty stucco case
By MICHAEL WELLES SHAPIRO
Published Saturday, November 22, 2008
A court-appointed arbitrator awarded a Sun City Hilton Head couple $66,000 earlier this month from the community's developer, Del Webb, due to improperly installed stucco on the couple's home. Del Webb is a subsidiary of Pulte Homes.
The judgment, issued Nov. 12, also states that legal costs incurred by the couple, Mary and Joe Oros, must be paid by the developer.
"This represents a total victory for the homeowners," said their attorney, Charleston-based John Chakeris, who has filed about 100 more lawsuits related to Sun City stucco issues.
However, Pulte spokesman Jon Cherry called stucco defects on the Oros home an isolated instance. He pointed out that a judge declined in April to hear Sun City stucco cases collectively as a class action suit.
In a letter to residents after the arbitrator's judgment, Cherry wrote that Pulte surveyed more than 2,500 homes to see if there was a pattern of cracked stucco.
"The survey determined that there are no widespread deficiencies in the stucco applications," he wrote.
But Chakeris told Sun City residents in another letter that homeowners with stucco problems who don't take legal action within three years of finding out about them could lose their right to collect damages.
Cherry responded, warning Sun City homeowners of "attorneys and their tactics as they try to create an atmosphere that encourages lawsuits ... with stories of their many and substantial victories."
Cherry also warned that a plethora of stucco suits could have the effect of negatively "impacting resale property values in Sun City Hilton Head."
He also stressed Pulte's reputation as a reputable builder.
"Pulte Homes/Del Webb takes pride in our reputation in the building industry and our track record of building high quality homes," Cherry stated.
Chakeris, however, still was celebrating what he said would be the first of many legal victories. "I'm sure the Pulte people aren't very happy, but they made their bed and now they have to sleep in it."