PORTSMOUTH — A federal lawsuit, alleging faulty construction led to mold in apartments at the 100-unit Wamesit Place housing complex, is scheduled for a 2019 trial, while a defendant contractor now alleges “inadequate maintenance” caused the problem.
The lawsuit was filed by Portsmouth attorney John Bosen, on behalf of the Wamesit Place Family Housing Limited Partnership, and claims mold remediation will require a “massive” amount of work and the temporary relocation of some residents. The Portsmouth Housing Authority manages the Wamesit Place apartments on Greenleaf Avenue and its director, Craig Welch, previously told the Portsmouth Herald he can’t discuss the litigation, but said no residents’ health is at risk.
In a joint report to the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire, the parties summarize Wamesit’s lawsuit as pertaining to the 2015 discovery of “ventilation problems” linked to renovations in 2012. Wamesit claims “mold, specifically Alternaria and Cladosporium,” was found in Wamesit apartments and “is growing because humid exhaust air is accumulating and saturating insulation in ceilings and attics.” The mold was due to “missing and/or improper installation of the soffits and ventilation systems in the ceilings of the apartments,” the suit alleges.
Wamesit names Portland Builders as a defendant and that contractor now claims that during construction, Wamesit requested change orders which eliminated attic insulation, ventilation “and other work that was part of the original contract.”
“The conditions of which Wamesit complains, including the presence of mold, were pre-existing and/or due to inadequate building maintenance over the course of many years and not due to any act or omission of Portland Builders,” the joint court motion states. In addition, Portland Builders claims, Wamesit waived claims for “consequential damages” and warranties related to correction of nonconforming work was limited to one year.
Wamesit has also named Goduti-Thomas Architects as a defendant and that firm now contends any claims against it are barred by the statue of limitations.
In a joint motion to the U. S. District Court of New Hampshire, all parties noted they need to further explore issues of insurance coverage, the initial scope of the project, change orders, other contractors who worked on the project and the date when Wamesit discovered the mold. The court has scheduled a trial date of June 4, 2019.
When the $5.8 million renovation project was announced in May 2011, former PHA director Joe Couture said work entailed replacement of all roofs, siding, doors, windows, kitchens, bathrooms and flooring, in addition to new paint jobs and appliances.
The “massive” undertaking, according to the lawsuit, will include removing all insulation, cleaning all surfaces in ceilings and attics, replacing ceiling drywall, re-insulating to allow for proper ventilation, replacing bathroom fans and missing duct work to roof vents. Welch previously said “a couple dozen” housing units were affected over the past five years, but he could not comment about whether all 100 will have to be renovated.
Wamesit alleges breach of contract and negligence and seeks attorney’s fees for bringing the case to court.
Representing Portland Builders, attorney Douglas Steele denies all the allegations and claims Wamesit failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate its damages.
Article Source: http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20180115/lawsuit-over-mold-in-portsmouth-housing-set-for-trial