A recent South Carolina Court of Appeals opinion affirmed a verdict of nearly $10 million for Charleston property owners compensating them for the damages that they suffered from defective construction of their condominium units.

When developers lie to prospective home-buyers, the homeowners do not get the benefit of their bargain, and the necessary repairs are not made, homeowners may have no choice but to file a lawsuit to force the developers to compensate them.

Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC are booming with new construction and choosing the right location and builders can be challenging. If you chose the wrong builders and you’ve been taken for a ride, Coastal Law, LLC’s Charleston plaintiff’s lawyers may be able to help you recoup your losses.

What Happened at The Oaks in Charleston?

Like most defective construction cases, multiple plaintiffs filed suit against multiple defendants for a variety of damages that were caused by the defendants related to the construction of their condominiums on Daniel Island in Charleston, SC.

The homeowners received brochures that marketed the new condos as having “an incredible array of standard luxuries” which included “oak flooring, soundproofing between all units, and an exterior brick-and-stucco façade.” After purchasing their new condos at prices as high as $900,000 per unit, the new homeowners discovered that the units were not soundproof and they were filled with leaks from poorly installed A/C units, plumbing, windows, and doors. The leaks resulted in mold and warped flooring in many of the units.

The plaintiffs settled against some of the defendants prior to trial, and they reached a partial settlement with the remaining defendants that covered some of their claims. The trial went forward against the remaining defendants on the remaining claims.

At trial, the plaintiffs received a verdict for the value of their remaining claims. The Court of Appeals upheld that verdict and held that the damages were not speculative, they were not duplicative, and the defendants were not entitled to a set-off for the amount they had already paid in the settlement agreement.

Isn’t the Defendant Who Goes to Trial Entitled to a Set-Off?

In general, a defendant is entitled to a set-off in the amount of any settlement that was paid to the plaintiffs before trial. This only applies, however, when the settlement is reached as to the same causes of action that go to trial.

The trial court awarded the POA $7,934,704.06 from Appellants for the cost of repair, $793,470.41 for engineering fees at 10% of cost to repair, and $641,520 for moving, storage, and replacement lodging. It also determined DIRD was liable for an additional $19,440 for the failure to fund the reserves as promised. It awarded individual Unit Owners differing amounts of damages specific to them. These damages included loss of market access, lost rent, inconvenience, out of pocket costs, and costs due to defective floors.

The set-off deducted from what a defendant must pay following a trial verdict is designed to ensure that the plaintiffs do not recover twice for the same damages. In this case, there were multiple causes of action against multiple defendants which included:

  • Breach of contract.
  • Breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Breach of fiduciary duty accompanied by a fraudulent act.
  • Negligence.
  • Negligent misrepresentation.
  • Breach of express and implied warranties including habitability, fitness for a particular purpose, and workmanlike service.
  • Violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA).
  • Fraud.

The trial court heard extensive testimony about the different types of damages that the plaintiffs suffered, including the costs of extensive repairs to the condos, loss of market value, lost rent, the cost of alternative housing while repairs are being done, and the cost of storage of the plaintiff’s property as repairs are being done.

Because the trial court’s verdict and damages award did not compensate the plaintiff’s twice for the same causes of action and types of damage that were agreed to in the settlement agreement, they did not recover twice for the same damages and the trial court was not required to set-off the amount of the settlements following the verdict against the remaining defendants.

What Can I Do if I’ve Been Ripped Off by a Developer?

You are entitled to the benefit of your bargain. Developers cannot promise one thing in their marketing materials and deliver something else after you pay them.

If you find yourself in a new home that was not built properly, that was not built to code, or that does not deliver what you were promised before the purchase, the Charleston personal injury lawyers at Coastal Law, LLC may be able to help you.

You can schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case by calling (843) 488-5000 or filling out our online form.

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