Flawed engineering, building alleged in $11.5 million suit

October 09, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

The Canvasback Cove homeowners' association in Havre de Grace has filed an $11.5 million lawsuit against the developer, architect and former corporate officers of Canvasback Cove Condominium Inc. for water damages allegedly caused by construction and engineering flaws.

The lawsuit named as co-defendants MPW-H Communities Inc., a New Jersey-based developer with a construction office in Havre de Grace; Frederick Ward Associates Inc., a Bel Air engineering and architectural firm; and Kenneth E. Flint, Pat Bristow and Deborah Jarossy, former officers of Canvasback Cove Condominium Inc., who apparently are still employed by the developer.

The owners cited 11 specific counts in the lawsuit, and asked for $5.5 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages.

They claimed the damages are due them for negligent design, construction, supervision, misrepresentation and repair.

The owners also alleged breach of statutory, express and implied warranties, breach of fiduciary duties, constructive fraud and breach of contract.

In the lawsuit, filed in Harford Circuit Court Sept. 30, the owners contended that the condominium complex at Revolution and Concord streets was improperly designed and built in 1989 with insufficiently insulated water pipes. The pipes allegedly have frozen repeatedly.

The fire sprinkler system also has frozen in the last two winters, the owners said, because of inadequate insulation between the sprinkler pipes and the roof and outside walls.

The owners also alleged that the sprinkler system in the complex was installed improperly, and that repairs made by the developer were "inadequate and nothing more than superficial."

Plaintiffs in the suit said the original sprinkler design called for a glycol-based system.

They allege that the developer used water instead of glycol because the City of Havre de Grace had banned the use of glycol while the complex was under construction.

Havre de Grace now permits the use of a glycol-based system, so the condo owners want the developer to replace it.

In addition, space heaters that the developer added to resolve the frozen water pipes are inadequate and much more costly to operate than the insulation methods originally planned, the owners said.

Merrill Dougherty, chief of the Susquehanna Hose Company, said he recalled that city fire units had responded "perhaps in a half-dozen instances" to deal with sprinkler problems at Canvasback Cove.

Canvasback Cove owners also contended in the suit that windows throughout the project have leaked because of insufficient, or missing caulking and/or flashing, weathered and shrunken wood trim and/or faulty, cracking sills.

The lawsuit alleged that extensive flooding has been caused by an inadequate piping system that was installed to carry away water generated on and off the property.

David Wang, of Frederick Ward Associates Inc., said his firm received a copy of the complaint Thursday and sent it to Washington attorney Jim Lee for review.

Max D. Miller, attorney for MPW-H Communities Inc., did not return several phone calls.

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