Homeowners group settles years-long lawsuit | SteamboatToday.com

Homeowners group settles years-long lawsuit

Torian Plum owners come out with $294,000 in agreement

Kevin, left, and Sue Bramley walk though Torian Plum Plaza on Wednesday afternoon. Torian Plum's condo owners group sued Connell Resources in 2007, saying the plaza's concrete was flaking away. The parties in the case settled March 13.
John F. Russell

— A Steamboat Springs homeowners group has settled a years-long lawsuit related to concrete problems.

The Torian Plum Condominium Owners Association sued Connell Resources on May 18, 2007, accusing Connell of breach of contract. The association said concrete “was improper or improperly installed” at Torian Plum Plaza, Connell Contracts Administrator Doug Anderson said. The suit was filed in Routt County District Court.

The lawsuit grew tangled, with Connell bringing a claim against its concrete contractor and the contractor bringing a claim against its concrete supplier. All parties were part of the March 13 settlement, which awarded $294,000 to Torian Plum, said Reed Morris, lead counsel for the owners association with Ralph Cantafio.

The settlement came on the last day of a two-week jury trial.

“While the judge was reading his final instructions to the jury, the attorneys involved stood up and asked to speak to the judge over on the side and informed him that a settlement had been reached,” Anderson said.

Morris said he was happy with the result.

“What Torian was seeking was the amount to essentially remove and replace the plaza,” Morris said. “The original plaza in 2004 cost approximately $265,000.”

The work addressed in the lawsuit was performed in 2004. Connell Resources was the general contractor. Routt County Concrete, also referred to as Snow Country Concrete, subcontracted to install the concrete. That company bought the material from Lafarge West.

“Within the first year, the plaza began exhibiting signs of scaling and deterioration that became progressively worse and worse over time,” Morris said. “That was the real thrust and the primary problem with the plaza. Generally speaking, it was a construction defect case.”

Connell filed a claim against Routt County Concrete, which filed a claim against Lafarge. Anderson said Connell tried to work with the Torian Plum group to resolve the concerns. Morris also said the parties tried to reach a settlement before going to trial.

“Connell Resources denied the allegations in the complaint, and we also believe the homeowners association may have been at least possibly responsible for the damages they had, so it was disputed in several respects,” Anderson said.

Snow Country Concrete declined to comment. The company’s attorney didn’t return a call seeking comment late Wednesday afternoon, nor did the lawyer representing Lafarge.

In a Feb. 20, 2009, trial brief, Routt County Concrete accused Lafarge of destroying documents related to the concrete it supplied for the Torian Plum project.

“Lafarge negligently spoliated documentation it knew, or should have known, was to be preserved: the mix designs of the concrete it provided. : RCC is entitled to a negative inference that Lafarge did not properly design the concrete in accordance with the project’s specifications,” the brief stated.

Calls to Lafarge West’s offices were not returned. In a trial brief filed Feb. 20, 2009, Lafarge outlined its stance. The brief stated that Routt County Concrete gave limited instructions in its order.

“Routt County Concrete never actually disclosed the project specifications to Lafarge,” the document states. “Rather, Routt County Concrete simply ordered concrete of a particularly specification from Lafarge, which Lafarge then delivered to the project. : There is simply no evidence that the concrete supplied by Lafarge did not meet the ordered specifications.”

The concrete hasn’t been replaced, Morris said. He said his clients were satisfied with the $294,000 settlement.

“The evidence that we put out in terms of damages were approximately that amount, slightly north of there,” he said. “At the time the case settled, we hadn’t actually done our closing arguments and given that final number or asked the jury yet.”

Anderson, of Connell, said there were pros and cons to any settlement agreement. In this case, striking a deal made sense, he said.

“It was not clear what the verdict was going to be, and the parties all decided to compromise,” he said, “and they decided it was in their individual best interests to do so.”

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