Kevin and Stacy win a construction defect jury trial
Author News Admin
October 6th, 2017
Congratulations to Kevin and Stacy who won a jury trial in a construction defect case in Rockingham County Superior Court. They represented Michael (Sgt., ret.) and Stacey Fowler of Seabrook, who alleged they were taken advantage of by a developer and realtor in Seabrook, New Hampshire, Thomas O’Hara and Best Rate Realty. The Fowlers entered into a contract for the construction of a new single family home on land the family was “renting-to-own” while they earned credit toward the purchase of the land under the agreement and saved their money to build a home themselves. O’Hara said he could build that home now if they gave up their rent-to-own credits and were able to get the landowner to sell the property to him at a stated price. They testified he said he would not take his usual profit from the project as a “gift” to them, to honor Michael’s military service, who was totally disabled from that military service, and Stacey, his full-time caregiver. They testified that O’Hara breached that contract and built a defective home, including not having an entry door anywhere on the first floor of a two-story home, despite Michael’s walking disabilities. They allege that once he owned the land and began to build the home – and became their landlord -- he significantly changed the design of the home and the financial terms of the agreement. They testified he also refused to provide necessary loan documents, including the design plans for the home, to the bank so that they could obtain a loan to purchase the finished home. They testified the bank eventually denied the loan because of O’Hara’s failure and refusal to provide the required documentation and due to an unacceptable appraisal report, which noted the house style was “HIGHLY ATYPICAL” and “HIGHLY UNUSUAL”. Finally, they testified that when the loan was denied, O’Hara tried to sell the home out from under them, as evidenced by a listing of their home on the MLS home listing and sale website for realtors and home buyers. The jury agreed with the Fowlers and found that O’Hara breached the warranty of good and workmanlike construction with respect to the defects in the home and awarded damages. It also issued an advisory verdict that it felt O’Hara’s actions constituted violations of the New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act, in that his actions were “unfair and deceptive.” The judge agreed, entered a ruling that O’Hara’s conduct was unfair and deceptive, and further held that the unfair and deceptive acts were “willful and knowing” violations of the Consumer Protection Act, entitling the Fowlers to recover three times the damages awarded under the Act and their reasonable attorneys’ fees. CullenCollimore now represents the Fowlers in an appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court recently taken by the Thomas O’Hara and Best Rate Realty.