Condo lawsuit against developer seeks $40 million in damages
Palm Beach Post
Kim Miller
12 March 2015

Attorney David Haber, of Haber Slade, addresses Palm Beach County Senior Judge William Slaughter at a status conference Thursday. An estimated 30 attorneys packed the Palm Beach County courtroom in the case of San Matera Condominium Association vs. Kolter Signature Homes. Haber represents the association.

A Palm Beach Gardens condominium marketed as luxury living during the housing boom is seeking tens of millions of dollars from developer Kolter Signature Homes for cracked concrete slabs, leaking windows and multiple other alleged construction defects.

Attorneys representing the San Matera Condominium Association in its five-year-old lawsuit were hoping to get a trial date Thursday during a status conference hearing. But Palm Beach County Senior Judge William Slaughter said he didn’t want to set a trial until a permanent judge was appointed.

An estimated 30 attorneys attended Thursday’s hearing as the case has picked up numerous defendants in its five-year history, including subcontractors, materials providers and architects.

Some of the original companies are now out of business, said David Haber, a Miami attorney representing the condominium association.

“Their defense is blame it on someone else. We say Kolter was the developer and contractor,” Haber said. “They say it’s a different Kolter company, we say Kolter is Kolter.”

San Matera has 676 units. Many owners bought during the height of the market, including condo association president Jackie Durham, who paid $375,000 for her two bedroom unit. The property appraiser listed its 2014 value at $159,500.

“There is no major system that is without problems,” Durham said.

Haber said problems at the condominium, including balconies that slope the wrong way or have no slope, didn’t culminate until 2009 when the developer handed over governance to the association. The association then paid for a “turnover report” that found roof leaks, stucco issues, and even problems with light poles that have inferior foundations.

“The existence or causes of some of these defects in the reports were not readily recognizable by persons who lack special knowledge and or training,” the lawsuit says.


Shoddy work iced over with stucco leads to
$40 million fight

Palm Beach Florida
31 March 2015

The case, which seeks $40 million in damages for a bevy of problems — leaking roofs, leaning light poles, poorly pitched porches — has picked up dozens of defendants since 2010 as sub-contractors were added like clues accumulated by a detective.

ending one of two ways:

While mediation has settled some of the lesser disputes, owners hope to get a trial date this spring, and maybe a resolution to a drawn-out fight they see ending one of two ways: victory, or a special assessment so high it could force some owners into foreclosure.


Too many lawyers spur road trip for Gardens building flaw trial
Palm Beach Post
By Jane Musgrave—Staff Writer
27 September 2016

When the more than 1,000 residents of a sprawling Palm Beach Gardens condominium community sued home-building giant Kolter Homes for a whopping $36 million, there was no doubt it would be a big case.

So how big is it?

It’s so big there’s not a courtroom in Palm Beach County that can accommodate the roughly 40 lawyers that will be representing Kolter and 17 subcontractors against claims by San Matera The Gardens Condominium Association that shoddy workmanship turned their promised luxury homes into water-soaked nightmares.

It’s so big there was talk of holding the trial at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Instead, crews ripped out benches in a courtroom at the South County Courthouse to handle the phalanx of attorneys along with jurors and court personnel who are needed for the estimated month-long trial. It will mark the first time a jury trial has ever been held at the Delray Beach courthouse.

It’s so big some 300 county residents - far more than are summoned for a typical trial - are being called in this week to assure the lawyers can find six jurors and four alternates who can decide the complex case.

Too many lawyers spur road trip for Gardens building flaw trial
photo Lannis Waters

It’s so big those who want to watch the trial will have to do so from two small glass-walled rooms in the back of the courtroom because all the seats in what would have been the gallery will be filled with folding tables lined with lawyers. If more than 20 people show up, court officials said audio from the trial may have to be pumped into a nearby atrium.

“It’s one big logistics issue,” said attorney David Haber, who is representing the 676-unit development near The Gardens mall.

He credited court personnel for devising a way for his clients to have their day—or, as it turns out, days—in court after waiting six years for the lawsuit to be brought to trial.

It wasn’t easy. And finding a room big enough was only half of the problem.

Legally, jury trials can’t be held in Delray Beach. In 2003, the suggestion was rejected after a study found the demographic mix in the southern part of the county was too white to comply with court rulings that dictate that the racial makeup of jury pools must reflect the racial profile of the entire county. Based on the 2000 Census, 92 percent of the residents in the Delray Beach-Boca Raton area were white compared with 79 percent in the rest of the county.

That added another yet wrinkle to the trial. While prospective jurors will gather in a courtroom in the main Palm Beach County Courthouse in West Palm Beach for jury selection, those selected will be told to drive to Delray Beach for the trial when it begins Tuesday and then head back to West Palm Beach for deliberations.

Debra Oats, court operations consultant, said a variety of options were considered to find a place for the unwieldy trial. The convention center was rejected because parking is limited while a garage is under construction. It also would have cost about $35,000 to rent a room in the facility, but Oats said the lack of parking was the deal breaker.

The cost of re-configuring the courtroom was minimal, she said. While an unusual situation, she expects the trial to go off without a hitch.

Haber said his clients are just happy their grievances over leaky windows, roofs and walls and other construction defects will finally be aired. “I don’t care if we try it on the courthouse steps,” he said.


San Matera condo group settles with Kolter for $22.5 million
Palm Beach Post
By Jane Musgrave
29 September 2016

DELRAY BEACH — A trial that posed one of the biggest logistical challenges in Palm Beach County legal history was over before it began Thursday when a beleaguered Palm Beach Gardens community agreed to accept $22.5 million to drop its claims against Kolter Homes.

While less than the $36 million the San Matera The Gardens Condominium Association was seeking to repair leaky buildings, its attorney said it allows work to begin so the 676 unit owners can finally move on with their lives.

Even if a jury had awarded the community all of the money it sought, appeals from Kolter, dozens of subcontractors and their insurers could have dragged out for years, further delaying needed repairs while the condos continue to rot, said attorney David Haber.

He credited Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jack Cox for pushing the insurance companies representing the 18 companies to the bargaining table. Haber also credited court administration officials with figuring out a way to bring the 6-year-old lawsuit to trial.

With no courtroom big enough to accommodate the estimated 40 attorneys involved in the case, officials reconfigured a courtroom at the South County Courthouse in Delray Beach. Benches were pulled out and replaced with folding tables and chairs for the phalanx of lawyers.

In addition, hundreds of extra jurors were summoned. Thursday was the third day of jury selection and Cox made it clear that the trial would begin next week as planned, Haber said.

That’s when settlement negotiations began in earnest, he said.

The accord was announced in open court in West Palm Beach, where jury selection was being held before the trial was moved to the remodeled Delray courtroom.

Haber said homeowners are anxious for repairs to begin.

“The association now has the arduous task of completing the remediation process,” he said.

top  contents  chapter  previous  next