Judge: Lawyers in stucco suit can talk to Sun City homeowners

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Judge: Lawyers in stucco suit can talk to Sun City homeowners

By ALLISON STICE
astice@islandpacket.com
Published Saturday, July 14, 2012   |  494 Words  |  

When lawyers suing over stucco work in Sun City Hilton Head attempted to hold a public meeting in January for homeowners interested in joining the lawsuit, attorneys for the community's builder and developer worked quickly to stop them.

The defense team for developer Del Webb Communities Inc., builder Pulte Homes Inc. and others named in the suit sought an injunction communication with about 4,300 homeowners who might be eligible to join the class action, according to court filings.

However, Judge J. Michael Baxley denied the injunction June 26, and the meeting is back on, scheduled for Thursday. The defense team is appealing. It argues the lawyers pressing the class action have a conflict of interest in providing information to homeowners, because the more people who join the suit, the more money the lawyers stand to make.

Plaintiffs have not yet named a settlement figure they would seek.

Baxley granted the suit class-action status in December. It was started five years ago by Sun City couple Anthony and Barbara Grazia, who are represented by a team of four lawyers who declined to comment for this story. One of the lawyers, John Chakeris of Chakeris Law Firm of Charleston, said previously he represents about 140 other plaintiffs with claims of defective stucco work.

By combining the lawsuits into a single class action, the court will not be clogged with identical lawsuits, Baxley decided.

South Carolina State Plastering LLC, the lead defendant, applied stucco to about 4,300 Sun City homes from late 1998 to July 2007, and there are potential defects in each, the plaintiffs' lawyers say.

According to court filings, the plaintiffs also want Pulte and Del Webb to stop repairs on homes with defective stucco that could be included in the class action, repairs they say amount to covering up evidence. Pulte and Del Webb also are requiring homeowners who receive the repairs to sign a form opting out of any present or future class-action lawsuits; an agreement form is included in court filings.

James Zeumer, Pulte vice president of investor relations and corporate communications, countered Thursday that the builder and developer should be allowed to respond to service requests and make appropriate repairs.

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/LCBlotter.

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Faulty stucco blamed for rash of mold problems in Sun City, June 4, 2010