Homeowners sue builder – Quaker Group – claiming inferior workmanship may have triggered mold growth & created a health risk

Feb. 22, 2010
By Jan Hefler

Dozens of South Jersey homeowners, claiming inferior workmanship may have triggered mold growth and created a health risk, have sued the Quaker Group, a residential and commercial developer in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The homeowners, who live in upscale developments in Cherry Hill, Marlton, and Voorhees, all have the same complaint: The company failed to caulk around windows and doors and neglected to install flashing, sheet metal strips that seal the edges. Water seeped into their homes and pooled between their walls, where mold can thrive, according to two complaints filed at different times in Camden County.

Some homes also lacked insulation or tar paper behind exterior walls, the complaints say.

The complaints, filed by more than 40 homeowners, are pending in state Superior Court in Camden and follow a lawsuit that was filed by at least 20 others who bought Quaker homes in Gloucester County. Those cases have either been settled or been otherwise resolved.

The Quaker Group, based in Voorhees, also has an office in Montgomeryville, its former headquarters. The company built thousands of homes, mostly in South Jersey, over a 50-year period that ended in 2002, when it sold its residential operation to developer K. Hovnanian.

Quaker Group president Sara K. Gowing said the company was no longer involved with construction; it manages office and apartment buildings.

Nicholas Sansone, the company’s lawyer, said Quaker denied the allegations. “Most of these homes are almost 10 years old (some older) and if there is proven to be water intrusion, it could have been caused or prevented by a number of factors, including homeowner maintenance,” he said in an e-mail. Quaker has not been given any documents that confirm “the existence of mold” or any health problems, he added.

Lisa Ruffner, who moved into the Estates at Maison Place in Voorhees with her husband and three children in 1999, said she could not figure out why they were getting sick so often. “When it rains, we start coughing and wheezing and want to sleep a lot,” she said.

Their stucco front would stay wet for 10 days, but she said she did not know that water was collecting between the walls and creating an ideal environment for mold.

A letter she sent to Quaker Group to complain about dripping windows and doors and rotting hardwood floors went unanswered, Ruffner said.

Her husband later discovered there was no insulation or moisture barrier behind the siding on their side walls.

“We were so shocked,” Ruffner said.

Ruffner, a lawyer, said her two sons had been diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus, which her doctors say may come from mold. She is having mold testing performed.

Ruffner said the family could not afford to move out of the four-bedroom Colonial, especially since her husband was recently laid off. They are hoping the lawsuit will force the builder to fix the problems.

Brad Krupnick, a Philadelphia lawyer with Josel & Feenane, represents the Ruffners and 40 other families. They live in Maison Place, the Short Hills development in Cherry Hill, or Colts Gate in Marlton.

The lawsuits say the Quaker Group and other corporate entities failed to meet “federal, state, and local building codes, laws and ordinances, and industry standards.”

Many of the residents could need to have the front of their homes replaced because of the damage. Krupnick said workers would have “to rip off the front, fix whatever got wet, and put it back up.”

That work could cost between $50,000 and $70,000, Krupnick estimates. The lawsuits ask for damages in excess of $50,000 per home, plus legal fees and any associated medical bills.

Krupnick, who has become a specialist in toxic-mold litigation, became involved when his own Quaker-built home in the Springdale Crossing development in Cherry Hill began leaking. He sued, and since then settled his case for an undisclosed amount, along with the cases of two neighbors.

Krupnick said that the Quaker Group told some of his clients to contact the home-warranty company.

In New Jersey, builders must provide a warranty to fix major problems that may occur in a new home within the first 10 years. But Krupnick said the warranty was limited to “major structural defects” after the third year and did not cover the moisture issues.

“The houses were defectively designed,” the lawsuits state. “Unbeknownst to plaintiffs for a long period of time, [the defects] allowed water and moisture to infiltrate through the windows and into the space between the outer stucco and the walls of the house.”

The homes were built between 1997 and 2002. Many have a stucco or brick front that was built by masonry subcontractor A-1 Bracket Inc., of Morrisville, the lawsuit says.

A-1 Bracket is also named as a defendant. A person who identified himself as Robert when he answered the phone at the headquarters said he was “doing the work according to industry standards 10 years ago. The industry has changed since then.” He would not give his last name.

philly.com

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New Action Committee – ACHEMMIC- Urges Transparency in EPA Policy Over Mold & Microbial Contaminants

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Certain Corporate and Government Interests Have Spent Huge Sums of Money and Resources DENYING THE TRUTH about the HEALTH EFFECTS of TOXIC MOLD

Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry

“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer

Information on Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana continuing to allow tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of mold toxins

Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments managed by Riverstone Residential

Riverstone Residential Litigation

Mold Inspection Reports

Photos of Mold in Apartment

Attorney Malpractice

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4 Responses to Homeowners sue builder – Quaker Group – claiming inferior workmanship may have triggered mold growth & created a health risk

  1. jimfussell says:

    This is Jim Fussell and am responding to “Jason’s” comments. As in another response I feel it it necessary to respond to protect my self against the absolute false statements made by this person. Jason Maudlin is the owner of J&D Flooring. I hired Jason to install tile on a project of mine. We agreed to the terms of the project and I made his all of his payment requests which consisted of a deposit to start and weekly payments for the work to be performed. He stated that the project would take no more than three weeks to complete the installation. In the beginning the work went well. He then began coming to the project later every day and working just a couple of hours then leaving. He would often leave his assistant unattended to install the tile. She was clearly inexperienced and had never laid tile before. I voiced my concerns to her but they fell on deaf ears. He then began not showing up for days to weeks at a time. When he did show up without notice he would expect all of his materials laid out for him. He then used this as an excuse to disappear again blaming me again for his failure to perform. I sent multiple emails and made numerous phone calls trying to locate him. When he would respond he would always have an excuse about broken vehicles, lost telephones, illness, broken equipment etc. Months had past and he still was not finished with the work which my client will attest to. My client, while extremely patient, was very frustrated with Jason’s work ethic as well. When he finally came back to finish he worked one day, asked for the balance of his money with the promise of returning the next morning claiming he was a man of his word and that I could trust him. That was the last I ever saw of him on the project. He refused to respond to me nor my attorney’s demands to either finish the work or refund the amount he was paid for the incomplete work. I then had to hire another installer to finish his work and make numerous repairs due to his inferior workmanship. It was discovered that the majority of the tile was not professionally installed and had to be replaced to rise to an acceptable level of workmanship. The monetary damages were in excess of $9,000. I made a claim against him and his insurance company for the faulty wormanship and damages that he caused. He was given multiple opportunities to correct his inferior work but refused. Months later he was doing a project in the same neighborhood that I was working in. I saw him and asked him him about the money he owed me. He said that he had my money in his truck. He returned with a baseball bat. He took a swing at my vehicle. Once he did this I immediately left the area where upon he chased me, pulled in front of me and stopped and attempted to attack my vehicle again with the bat. I had a passenger with who also witnessed and felt threatened by his actions. I was able to leave the area and where upon I filed a report with the sheriffs department and have charged him with assult. He still has not answered the Sheriff’s department arrest warrant nor the demands of payment for the amount he was over paid and damages he has caused. Again I have all documentation showing that the above is true including full payment records, contracts, emails, demand letters from myself, my client and my attorney, and file numbers with the Sheriff’s Dept. It is a shame that Mr. Maudlin has taken this forum to misrepresent the chain of events that occured instead of just doing the work in which he was paid in full for initially.

  2. jimfussell says:

    My name is Jim Fussell. A client of mine has made me aware of this site and the reviews of myself. I felt compelled to respond and tell the other side of the story. The review from city search is an individual that I built a home for a few years back. I will not identify her as it does not serve a purpose here. Her husband was a pleasure to work. She was a different story. I met with the husband every week to go over the work completed and the work scheduled to take place. We would lay out a plan of action which he was satisfied with and within as little as hours she would undo everything that we we trying to accomplish. She ultimately took over the project directing my workers without any consideration for who they were working for. She bberated me and my workers daily to the point many of them including my own superintendent refused to go back because of the daily verbal assault that she dispensed. It was not uncommon for her to show up at my office or my home without warning using very graphic language making threats against myself, staff and family. She provided her own plumbing fixtures for the project and stored them at a location that was unknown to me. When we needed the fixtures a request was made for her to deliver them. She actually forgot what she had done with them and accused me of stealing them from her. She went as far as to threaten to have me arreseted. When I spoke to her husband about this matter he acknowledged that the fixtures were in their possession and he then delivered them. Of course she offered no apology.
    Eventually her husband backed out of the project because he started getting the same treatment from her that I was. When the project was completed she did not pay my final balance on the contract nor any of the change orders that she accumulated. This was a total of $80,000. She said that there were some issues on the house that needed attention and she was going to hold the funds until they were complete. She gave me list after list of repairs. When the list was complete I made a request for the balance of my payment only to be met with another list. For the next year and a half we completed list after list after list with zero payment being made. She hired no less than six different inspection services to “create” lists for us. When it became obviously appearent she had zero intention paying me I sent a demand letter for the payment. This offended her to the point she hired an attorney and sued me with a long list of things that were either not warranted or not a legitimate issue. The suit was for twice the value of the house which was frivolous. I offered to make the repairs regardless of them being legitimate or responsibility but she refused to allow me back in. She was determined not to pay me what was due. Since filing the suit she is now on her fifth law firm, all of which have resigned from the case because of her treatment of them and her unreasonable expectations. She now has filed suit against her most recent attorney for resigning from her and the suit. I always have been willing to and have made all reasonable repairs. The court found that she must allow me to make all repairs made by a court appointed inspector and she must pay the money due to me. This was signed and agreed upon by all parties. She still to this day refuses to allow me in her home or pay me. All of the above is true and documented. If anyone has an interest I would be more than happy to furnish the documents and the names of others that were associated with the project to support all of the above as it is fact and is now of public record. I have been a builder for 28 years and can provide you with a list of numerous satisfied and repeat clients that would tell you about building with me.

  3. Jason says:

    We have also had trouble with Jim Fussell. We are on the other end though, as a installer and not a home owner. Jim has refused to pay, he has blocked our tool trailer in, after non-payment. He has scheduled us over 20 days of work, when he couldn ‘t even purchase the material he was scheduling us to install. We sympathize with you, as Jim Fussell and his secretary Joy, actually followed us today, to a jobsite, then proceeded to make a scene in front of a customer’s house. When we got in our truck to leave the house before making a scene, he then whipped his SUV in front of our truck to prevent us from driving, without rear ending him. This continued down Perkins Road until I finally stopped my truck in the left hand lane and engaged my hazard lights. I am currently in the process for filing a police report and a restraining order against Jim, as I’m convinced that malpractice and malice is his game. I wish you well.

  4. information says:

    2 reviews

    .05/02/10Worst Builder in Baton Rouge
    by review8657 at Citysearch
    Choosing Custom Homes by Jim Fussell is the worst decision any home builder could ever make. Jim Fussell rarely visited the job site while my home was under construction, and when he did it was only to instruct his crew to make cuts & deviate from the architects plans. The architect–Greg Roberts & Jim Fussell worked closely, but the combination of these two has led to my home having major structural defects.
    Jim Fussell caused our dream home to have huge cracks in the floor, improper supporting for the entire house resulting in cracks in the walls as well, no division of the insultation in the attic (breathing in fiberglass), & other countless problems.
    Jim Fussell is arrogant & greedy…traits that you don’t want in your builder. He will ruin anything that he touches.
    Please email me if you have experienced similar disaster caused by Jim Fussell building your home. Currently in a lawsuit that appears to be in favor of unethical contractors.
    Pros: None!!
    Cons: Dishonest, unethical, unexperienced, & poor construction

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