Article Courtesy of First Coast News
By Anne Schindler
Published May 9, 2016
Sampson, who also serves as President of the Heron’s
Landing Condo Association Board, said the community was forced to reach out
to an independent structural engineer for help, because DR Horton downplayed
the severity of the problems.
“The more we
discovered the more there was,” Sampson told the jury. “It
just kept growing and growing. So we really needed his
expertise to get a handle on this cancer that was spreading
through the complex.”
Sampson joins a parade
of witnesses who have attested to a range of construction
defects at the 240-unit development. Residents have
testified about poor soundproofing, inadequate drainage, air
conditioning failures, broken plumbing, even garage doors
The company notes the buildings passed inspection and were
certified by the city of Jacksonville.
The lawsuit, filed in 2013, is unusual because construction
defect claims are typically handled in secret arbitration
proceedings. Virtually every new home contract prohibits
owners from suing in open court, and instead forces them
into a closed hearing with the builder. Because this case
was filed not by individual condo owners, but by the condo
association, the claim is freed from those limitations.
Magistrate John Sampson testifed the Heron's Landing
community sued the builder because "we are trying to get what we
paid for -- a livable building that would be there for 30 years."
Residents are asking for $9 million to repair the condos.
Attorneys for D.R. Horton declined to discuss the case. A spokesperson from
the company’s Texas headquarters said it is company policy to handle all
media inquiries in writing, but they issued the following statement: D.R.
Horton is committed to superior customer service and providing families with
quality homes and neighborhoods in North Florida. While we do not believe
the community has the construction defects alleged in the lawsuit, D.R.
Horton intends to fully cooperate with the legal process.
The lengthy and complicated trial began with jury selection on April 12. It
is expected to last at least another week.