A 74-year-old woman who paid $89,000 for a mobile home in the Nottingham retirement community of Elkridge wants her money back.
In a lawsuit filed in Howard County Circuit Court, Susanna Leschinsky claims that she was misled by Security Development Corp. because the developer didn't inform her until long after she had settled on her home that Nottingham would not be developed as a retirement community.
Charging Security Development with unfair and deceptive trade practices and breach of contract, Leschinsky is asking for the $89,000 she paid for the property and $50,000 in punitive damages.
"It's pretty evident that she wanted a quiet community and somebody that she could identify with and be friendly with, and so did all the other people that bought there," said Barry Silber, Leschinsky's attorney.
"Once you buy a mobile home, there are very few places where you canput it because of zoning restrictions," Silber said.
Nottingham is located on a 77-acre site in Elkridge near Meadowridge Road and Interstate 95.
According to the lawsuit, Leschinsky became interestedin Nottingham when she saw it advertised in a brochure and in newspapers as a planned community for people 55 and older. She made an initial deposit of $1,000 in July 1989. A year later she signed a purchase agreement and made an additional $9,000 deposit.
In August 1990,Leschinsky paid the $79,088 balance and moved in, said Silber.
A year later, after she had paid for improvements to her mobile home, Leschinsky claims Security Development notified her that Nottingham had abandoned the retirement community concept.
Leschinsky says the developer has refused her requests to return her money.
Steve Breeden, a vice president with Security Development, says that everybody who purchased units before the retirement concept was abandoned was told of the change and given the opportunity to back out.
"We were very careful to notify everybody and gave them an option to get out of what they were getting into," he said.
In an Aug. 22 letter fromSecurity Development president James R. Moxley Jr. to Leschinsky, hesays the company decided to change the adult community concept in July 1990 and instructed all sales agents to tell their customers aboutthe change.
The letter states: "If you had not heard this earlier, it was explained in careful detail at a meeting held on the site onSaturday, June 8, 1991."
Breeden said the company also had notified buyers in several meetings prior to the June 1991 meeting.
Lackof interest from buyers forced Security Development to abandon the concept of an adult community, Breeden said.