Vermont Jury Awards Homeowners $3.3M in Case Against Developer

September 25, 2006

A jury has awarded a local Vermont homeowners’ association $3.3 million after finding a developer and Winhall Real Estate Inc. violated the Vermont consumer fraud act.

The homeowners’ association filed suit in 2001 arguing that Theodore Cetron and the company built the Piper Ridge development in Winhall on unsuitable land.

The suit charged that some of the units were built on a dump filled with rotting logs and stumps. It also charged that some of the units had substandard roofing and siding and that Cetron and others misrepresented the conditions of the units.

“I know it’s a lot of money,” said E. William Leckerling, the attorney for the homeowners’ association, “But they have to pay damages over a situation that never should have happened.”

Cetron had no comment.

TPW Management of Manchester began caring for the Piper Ridge development in 1998.

“We did an engineering evaluation of the buildings,” said Paul Carroccio, who heads TPW. “A lot, if not all, of the buildings had issues with the structure, largely rotted wood. We fixed the rotten wood and the siding between 1998 and 2003. But in 2001, one of the buildings began to settle rapidly.”

An engineer found the building was sitting on stumps and boulders.

It cost owners about $500,000 to move the building.

Carroccio said all the problems in the development were fixed.

“This is now the best homeowners’ community in Stratton,” he said. “This is a property we’re proud to manage.”

The jury returned the verdict on Monday. No word yet on an appeal.

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