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Sunday, October 09, 2011

Courts - "Ohio high court drawn into magnetic-homes case"

David Eggert reported the story in last Wednesday's Columbus Dispatch. Some quotes:

After they moved into brand-new homes, two Canal Winchester couples discovered they were living inside magnets.

Their TV screens were distorted. Cordless phones ran into interference. Computer hard drives were corrupted.

The culprit: steel joists that had become magnetized, perhaps during construction.

Now, the Ohio Supreme Court is weighing if the couples can sue the builder, Centex Homes, or if they gave up that right by signing sales contracts limiting what problems the homebuilder has to fix. * * *

By signing the contracts, the buyers agreed to waive claims for repairs except those specifically mentioned in a separate document, which was available for inspection at a separate location and not before or at the time they bought the houses.

The couples sued in 2007. Both the Franklin County Common Pleas Court in 2009 and the 10th District Court of Appeals in 2010 ruled in Centex’s favor, citing the wording of the sales contract.

The couples’ attorney told the justices that a jury should have the opportunity to hear the homeowners’ case.

No matter what his clients signed, homebuilders still have an underlying duty to construct a house in a “workmanlike manner,” Edwards said. Even if the builder’s responsibility to the buyers can be waived, they were never told they were giving something up, he added.

“Not one citizen in the state of Ohio believes that if they go in and sign a contract ... they have nothing,” Edwards said. “That is, in my opinion, against the public policy of the state of Ohio.” * * *

Because the suit was dismissed before a trial could be held, it remains unclear exactly how the joists became magnetized. Justices tried to find out yesterday with questions to the attorneys, but they did not learn much on that point.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 9, 2011 10:25 AM
Posted to Courts in general