Architects dropped from public housing lawsuit over mold

Architects dropped from public housing lawsuit over mold

Source: https://www.seacoastonline.com, April 18, 2019
By: Elizabeth Dinanc

An architectural firm has been dropped from a lawsuit alleging faulty construction caused mold in apartments at the Wamesit Place public housing complex, while a related suit is ongoing at Superior Court, and the dispute is scheduled for mediation.

The lawsuit was filed by Portsmouth attorney John Bosen, on behalf of the Wamesit Place Family Housing Limited Partnership, and claims mold remediation at the apartments has required a “massive” amount of work and the temporary relocation of some residents. The Portsmouth Housing Authority manages the 100-unit Wamesit Place apartments on Greenleaf Avenue and its director Craig Welch previously told the Portsmouth Herald he can’t discuss ongoing litigation, but would say no residents’ health is at risk.

In a joint statement, filed with the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire, Bosen and attorney Clara Lyons for Portland Builders Inc. reported that allegations previously brought against Goduti-Thomas Architects were “entirely dismissed.”

The joint statement to the federal court also reports that on Jan. 8, a separate but related lawsuit commenced in Rockingham County Superior Court, regarding insurance coverage for damages to Wamesit housing. Cross-motions for summary judgement are pending at the Superior Court, the statement notes.

Summary judgement arguments ask the court to find in a filing party’s favor.

Wamesit and Portland Builders lastly reported to the federal court that the legal dispute is scheduled for mediation April 30 before Judge Robert Morrill. Because of those circumstances, both sides asked the court to reschedule a trial date to the week of Jan. 6, 2020, if mediation fails.

Wamesit’s lawsuit alleges the 2015 discovery of “ventilation problems” are linked to 2012 renovations. Wamesit claims “mold, specifically Alternaria and Cladosporium,” was found in Wamesit apartments and “is growing because humid exhaust air is accumulating and saturating insulation in ceilings and attics.” The mold was due to “missing and/or improper installation of the soffits and ventilation systems in the ceilings of the apartments,” the suit alleges.

Portland Builders has countered that Wamesit requested change orders during construction that eliminated attic insulation, ventilation “and other work that was part of the original contract.”

“The conditions of which Wamesit complains, including the presence of mold, were pre-existing and/or due to inadequate building maintenance over the course of many years and not due to any act or omission of Portland Builders,” according to the contractor.

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