Pikesville condo owners win suit Residents awarded $3.05 million against builders.

October 29, 1991|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Evening Sun Staff

Owners of condominiums at Annen Woods in Pikesville have won a $3.05 million damage award against the builder of their units in a breach of warranty action in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

The jury award yesterday, one of the largest to be awarded in the county court, is to go toward repairing defective walls and windows at the 76-unit condominium at 1 and 2 High Stepper Court.

"It's been a long battle," said Jack Eisen, president of the condominium association that brought suit in 1986 against Jonas Brody and Four Villages Limited Partnership, the developer of the property. "It was tough. Thank God we won."

The owners of units, many of whom lived in the two buildings since they were completed in 1982, complained of leaking windows, water leaching through exterior walls and of undue condensation caused by moisture buildup.

At the trial, which lasted nearly four weeks, dozens of enlarged photographs of the buildings, slide presentations and numerous other exhibits were introduced as evidence.

The attorneys for the plaintiffs even brought in a scale model of one of the buildings and a brick-and-mortar replica of a section of the condominium's outer walls.

The jury made a field trip to the buildings to observe the alleged defective workmanship that was causing the problems.

An attorney for the builder, Kenneth F. Spence, of Miles and Stockbridge, said yesterday, "We continue to believe that there's no credible evidence that any warranties were breached." He said no decision has been made on an appeal.

David Freishtat, attorney for the condo owners, said the major issue was the workmanship of the exterior walls.

Freishtat said moisture builds up between the inner cinder block part of the wall and the outer brick, in a 3/4 -inch gap that should have been filled with mortar.

Because of the gap, the walls cannot adequately support the weight of the building, he added.

"You have stresses being impacted on the building that shouldn't be there," he said.

In closing arguments last week, Kristine A. Crosswhite, another attorney for the builder, disputed that there was poor workmanship or defects in the walls by saying that brick and mortar walls are made to absorb a certain amount of water.

She criticized tests by the plaintiffs' expert, in which parts of the wall were showered with the equivalent of as much as 30 inches of rainfall in little over a few hours, as being much harsher than a normal rainfall.

The condo owners had asked for $3.8 million, claiming they needed that amount to repair the wall.

Crosswhite, in closing arguments, criticized the repair scheme as being "a Rolls-Royce when an Acura would do." She maintained that the wall could be fixed by injecting liquid mortar at a cost of roughly $250,000.

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