GRETNA – A group of more than 300 homeowners have filed a class action lawsuit against the developers of a Harvey gated community built over filled in marshland after their homes allegedly experienced foundation and structural damage that was not covered by insurance polices.
Blanche Jenkins, on behalf of the proposed class, filed suit against Willow Inc., National Home Insurance Company – A Risk Retention Group and their insurers in the 24th Judicial District Court on April 14.
The class alleges that in 2000 or 2001 Willow Inc. received permission from Jefferson Parish to fill in a piece of marshland and build a subdivision over it. The plaintiffs, who are all owners of homes that were later built in the Village Green subdivision, contend that Willow Inc. did not allow enough time for the property to settle after the marshland was filled in. Between 2001 and 2007 the class asserts that homes were built and marketed for Village Green subdivision – a gated community – that they purchased. As part of the plaintiffs’ purchase agreement Willow Inc. allegedly provided them with a 10-year guarantee, backed by insurance, against foundation and structural problems.
However, the plaintiffs allege that before the 10-year warranty was up they began to experience foundation and structural problems with their homes, but the defendants failed to provide insurance payments to reimburse them for the damages because the insurance contracts only covered flood damage. The class contends they would have never bought their homes to begin with had they known the warranty and insurance would not be granted when foundation and structural damage occurred. Further, the class asserts they did not realize the warranties provided by the defendants included arbitration agreements, thus depriving the class of a chance to settle matters arising from the purchase in court – which they maintain is against Louisiana law. The plaintiffs claim arbitration costs exceed $350,000.
The defendants are accused of breach of contract, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.
An unspecified amount in damages is sought for reimbursement for property damage, mental pain and anguish, attorney’s fees and arbitration costs.
The class is represented by James E. Shields of Gretna-based Shields & Shields APLC.
The case has been assigned to Division D Judge Scott U. Schlegel.
Case no. 748-666.