Saturday, February 21, 2004

Builder, residents settle suit

Mason subdivision homeowners accept $3 million

By Matt Leingang
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Homeowners in a Mason subdivision agreed Friday to a $3 million settlement of a lawsuit that accused the builder and subcontractors of shoddy construction that led to water leakage and mold growth in their homes.

The class action lawsuit against Zaring National Corp., a former building company, was filed four years ago by 198 homeowners in the White Blossom subdivision. Ten other companies involved in the design and construction of the homes also were named.

The homeowners had alleged that masonry work was so bad that water penetrated the walls and condensed inside their houses, leaving water stains and mold growth on floors.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman held a hearing Wednesday on the proposed settlement and announced its approval Friday.

"The Zaring defendants are pleased to have resolved this protracted litigation," said Jonathan Saxton, an attorney for the defendants. "I should add that the settlement was reached without any admission of liability by parties involved."

Timothy Sullivan, attorney for the homeowners, declined to comment Friday.

Zaring, which was based in Cincinnati, filed for bankruptcy shortly after the lawsuit was filed. A portion of its assets was later purchased by the Drees Co.

Under terms of the settlement, the class representatives - the original eight homeowners who filed the suit - will share 5 percent of the $3 million, or $150,000.

The lawyers will get 20 percent, and the other homeowners will divide the remaining $2.25 million in varying amounts, based on the number of exterior walls that had documented problems.


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