Condominium Association Claims Faulty Masonry Work Caused Leaks in Construction

Late in 2002, the developer of 1717 S. Prairie Ave. in Chicago, Ill., retained the defendant Hansen & Hempel Co. to complete the masonry work for a 23-story condominium complex. When the building was nearly finished in March 2004, it started to experience water leakage. The condominium association, Board of Directors of the Prairie District Homes Tower Condominium Association, hired an engineering firm to design and implement a repair that was estimated to cost over $6,500,000.

Because of the report on the defects to the building, the association filed a lawsuit wherein the case was tried to a jury on the sole issue of breach of implied warranty of habitability.

The plaintiff board of directors of the condominium association contended that 90% of the through-wall flashing in dams installed by the defendant masonry company were either missing or installed improperly and claimed that because of those material defects it allowed water to penetrate the inner cavity of the building.

The condominium association claimed that the defendant chose not to install appropriate lap splices and debonded joints and placed excessive mortar in the cavity, causing water bridging into the building.

The defendant maintained that the cause of the water leakage was a defective design of the window systems, panel systems and failure to isolate the masonry from the metal panel system.

The defendant argued that the condominium association chose not to establish that any aspect of the allegedly defective masonry resulted in water seepage into any individual residential unit or that the residential units were rendered “unsuitable for their intended use” as required for a claim of breach of implied warranty of habitability. The developer and architect are both now insolvent and/or out of business; multiple other defendants who were in this case have since been dismissed or have settled with the condominium association.

The condominium association attorneys made a demand to settle this lawsuit for $1 million and asked the jury to return a verdict of $2,729,953. The offer to settle the case made by the defendant masonry company was $200,000.

The jury found in favor of the defendant Hansen & Hempel Co. At trial, the condominium association hired experts in the areas of architecture, structural engineering, accountants and certified public accounts. The defendant hired a professional engineer as its expert witness.

Board of Directors of the Prairie District Homes Tower Condominium Association v. Hansen & Hempel Co., Case No. 05 L 15769 (Cook County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling business disputes, commercial litigation, real estate litigation and product liability cases for individuals, families and businesses for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Palos Park, Palos Hills, Palatine, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Lincolnwood, Lake Bluff, Gurnee, Grayslake, Crystal Lake, Cary, Cicero, Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Alsip, Hickory Hills, Hazel Crest, Country Club Hills and Burbank, Ill.

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