Saturday, September 27, 2008

If you have a vote, you have someone to pay your legal bills

The Villas at Cattail Creek septic issue has made the papers again. This should not be too surprising, because it appears that the developer really screwed the buyers of the homes in this 55 and older community with a shoddy septic system. It sounds like the owners of these homes should be able to sue the pants off the developer.

But strangely, Howard County has taken up the lawsuit itself.

The county's 11-count complaint, filed on Sept. 11, alleges the owners and builders of Cattail Creek engaged in deceptive trade practices and false advertising, misrepresented or failed to reveal key facts and made false statements to buyers, among other claims. The county names as defendants the Villas at Cattail Creek LLC; developers, Donald Reuwer and J. Thomas Scrivener; and NVR Inc., the parent company of the builder Ryan Homes.

The lawsuit seeks to force the developers to comply with a host of demands that include completing an operable septic system by Nov. 15, locking in water and sewer costs for residents at a set rate and repurchasing any homes that residents wish to sell back. Robert Schulman, an attorney representing the developers, said the developers are addressing the septic system and that the county's only motivation for the lawsuit seems to be political. "It's outrageous," he said. "It's a political witch hunt."

I have not been following this case very closely, but it seems very unusual that the Howard County government is footing the legal bills for this suit. I could understand if the County sued the developer because the developer did not comply with zoning or some other county law, but that is apparently not what this suit is about. From what I have read in the papers, the residents of this community have just cause for a lawsuit, and will probably win. Why is the Howard County government taking all the downside risk of suing someone so that private landowners benefit?


Anonymous said...

Law enforcement is up to our government. In the absence of arrests, we have only civil legal action.

Also, unfortunately we have judges who've invested in this project, so a group of citizens suing in this case would have a very predictable negative outcome.

Freemarket said...

Anon, are you suggesting that the outcome of a lawsuit depends on who the litigants are? If that is true, government has completely screwed up its most important function.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've never been sued. I have. A real eye opener.

People who have never been involved in the legal system have a very hard time believing how it really works. Doesn't seem fathomable until you've been there.