Colorado Judge to Decide on $14M Case of Homes Located on Sinking Soils

September 3, 2015

Homeowners at a golf course subdivision near Glenwood Springs, Colo., are waiting to see if a judge will uphold $14 million in awards related to defects in the construction of homes on sinking soils.

A jury recently awarded nearly $7 million to 20 homeowners at the Ironbridge subdivision, determining that the developer of the homes, the Lehman Brothers subsidiary LB Rose Ranch LLC, was responsible for damage. An arbitrator awarded homeowners another $7 million earlier this year in a finding involving the homebuilders, Ironbridge Homes LLC and Hansen Construction, reported The Daily Sentinel.

The homes were built on evaporite, a salt-laden soil that has been linked to sinkholes and subsidence in parts of western Colorado.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Mari Perczak, said two homes have been condemned and one home has moved about 20 inches.

It’s possible to build on such soils “and it’s also repairable. These homes can be fixed; you just have to correctly engineer the foundations,” she said.

The awarded money would cover past and future repairs, substitute housing, personal property relocation, and other tangible and intangible costs, including the annoyance involved.

Defendants in the arbitration case have filed motions challenging the arbitration award. Attorneys for LB Rose Ranch have challenged the jury award and have filed a motion arguing that the award should be reduced because the arbitration award already fully compensates homeowners for their losses.

Ninth Judicial District Judge James Boyd will decide whether to issue judgments upholding the awards.

Evaporite formations are the product of ancient seas, lakes and other salt-laden waters. The soils can sink when water infiltrates and dissolves the salts. Sinking has occurred in Rio Blanco and Montrose counties as well as the Roaring Fork and Eagle River valleys.

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