Soggy Siding Spurs Breach-of-Contract Lawsuit

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Byline: DEVELOPMENT REPORT By Sherri Buri McDonald The Register-Guard

SPRINGFIELD - At first glance, The Park at Emerald Village Apartments appears to be an orderly, attractive affordable-housing project. But on closer inspection, exterior siding throughout the 96-unit complex is warped and discolored, suggesting that trouble lurks beneath.

The 6-year-old project's developers, Emerald Housing Limited Partnership, recently sued Clackamas-based contractor Tri-West Building Corp. for breach of contract and negligence.

In the lawsuit, filed in Lane County Circuit Court, the developers allege that Tri-West oversaw shoddy construction of the apartments at 1950 Second St., which allowed water to become trapped behind the siding, leading to extensive water damage and mold. The developers are seeking $800,000 in damages.

The development's owners and managers declined to discuss the lawsuit.

Tri-West, meanwhile, hasn't yet filed a response in court. However, the contractor's Portland attorney, David Morrison, said that if there are, in fact, problems with the construction, Tri-West would file a claim against subcontractors who did the work.

Morrison said it isn't clear that faulty construction caused the damage. A different possibility, he said, is that the architect the developers hired failed to design a sufficient number of vents in the building to allow air to escape.

In recent years, property owners have filed a rash of lawsuits alleging so-called "leaking buildings," Morrison said.

"I've represented contractors in leaking-building cases for years," he said. …