First Quarter (Jan-March) 2003 News Archives

Monday, March 31, 2003. Georgia:
Former Beazer employee alleges retaliatory firing
Soon after signing on
with Beazer Homes USA last summer, Judy Collins noticed some troubling
activities at her new employer. She spotted what she thought were accounting
irregularities, including instances in which funds allocated for one purpose
were spent on others. She complained that the company's North Florida operation promised to build houses and failed to deliver. And she alleged that customer
complaints were ignored and that staff members who complained were harassed
by management.

Friday, March 28, 2003. Australia: Shonky
builders the target of new watchdog
The State Government has announced sweeping changes to residential building work in NSW that involves the
formation of a new body to investigate shonky builders and to provide advice
to long-suffering consumers.

Thursday, March 27, 2003. Texas: Ted
Lyon: Lawsuit plans are ominous
Dallas Morning News. The special
interests' agenda is simply described: pass House Bill 4, which would dismantle
consumer protections, limit access to recovery for victims of corporate
malfeasance, shift the costs of crime and related injuries on to the victims,
and decrease access to courts for consumers who want to hold corporations
responsible for their conduct.

March 26, 2003.
Texas : Open
Season on Plaintiffs: Texas House tort reform bill goes way too far
civil justice system needs reform. However, the axiom "haste makes waste"
has no greater application than to the legislative process. What the House
has passed onto the Senate isn't a rush to reform. It's a rush to madness.

March 23, 2003.
Nevada: Neva
Home Owners Oppose Liability Insurance Task Force
Safe Homes Nevada
wants to remind policy-makers that the task force does not represent homeowners
and is "serving up profits for home builders at the expense of their customers,"
said Dan Geary, spokesman for the group.

March 23, 2003.
Texas : Rattling
locks on the courthouse doors
Believe it or not, folks, the Earth
isn't flat, and plaintiffs' lawyers aren't the only people on this part
of the planet who think the Texas Legislature has already gone just about
far enough in restricting ordinary citizens' access to the courthouse.

March 23, 2003.
Texas : The
'Mold Queen' Fights Back. The woman the insurance companies love to hate
says they ain't seen nothin' yet.
According to a report released
by CFP in October 2002, insurers expect to spend another $6 to $10 million
in lobbying fees for the 2003 legislative session. "The purported financial
losses of homeowners' insurance companies," the report notes, "have not
kept them from giving big money to legislative candidates and lobbyists."

March 21, 2003.
Texas: Tort
change foes post a victory
Texas' legal system are now abusing
this state's legislative system," said Richard Weekley, chairman and chief
executive officer of Texans for Lawsuit Reform. NOTE: Richard Weekley is
the brother of David Weekley the builder.

March 21, 2003.
Georgia: Home
sued for 'unhappy' signs
Lou Martin, a next-door neighbor of Mitchell's,
last week put up "unhappy homeowner" signs in his windows because of his
berm and wet yard. Crosby has threatened to sue him, Martin said. He said
his wife has been charged with criminal trespassing and is scheduled to
appear in court Friday.

March 19, 2003.
Nevada: Nevada
construction industry pushes home defects lawsuit reform
introduced Thursday in the state Senate, would require homeowners with
leaky roofs, crooked doors and windows or other problems to issue a formal
complaint to a builder.

March 19, 2003.
National: Watch
There's only one way to make sure a new house is being
built properly--keep tabs on the builder

March 19, 2003.
builder denies cash cover-up
Gary Bradley, the developer of Austin's
Circle C Ranch subdivision, has denied hiding assets from the federal government
and other creditors looking to recoup tens of millions of dollars from
his bankruptcy.

March 18, 2003.
Texas: Mold
Crisis Takes Hold in Texas Legislature
The Texas Legislature has
turned its attention to the mold crisis, with pending legislation addressing
three main areas: regulation of mold remediation companies; guidelines
on mold remediation; and regulation on the handling of mold and water damage
insurance claims.

March 18, 2003.
National: Housing
starts plunge 11% in February
"Even as the lowest mortgage rates
in decades continue to support new-home sales, builders are understandably
concerned about continued economic weakness, the situation in Iraq and
the anticipated effect of these developments on consumer behavior, " said
Kent Conine, president of the National Association of Home Builders.

March 16, 2003.
Texas: House
Bill 2934 Concerning consumer protection for homebuyers.
to consumer protection for and remedies available to a homebuyer whose
home does not comply with certain warranties; providing an administrative
penalty. Filed March 13 2002.

March 16, 2003.
Texas: House
Bill 2767 Concerning Foundations.
Relating to disclosure requirements
for residential foundations in certain areas. Filed March 13 2002.

March 16, 2003.
Texas: House
Bill 2930 Concerning Arbitration.
Relating to revision of Texas
arbitration laws. Filed March 13 2002.

March 16, 2003.
Texas: House
Bill 3430 Concerning Arbitration.
Relating to enforcement of arbitration
agreements and arbitration awards. Filed March 14 2002.

March 14, 2003.
Texas: Proposal
to set up industry-controlled panel to regulate builders raises concern
would be limited to the repair cost of a construction defect. Punitive
monetary awards and compensation for personal injury or mental anguish
would be excluded. The commission would have no authority to fine or prohibit
even the worst builders from doing business.committee Thursday

March 14, 2003.
Texas: Home
policy rates up 38%
Homeowner insurance rates in Texas have jumped
an average of 38 percent since 2000 Ö even as the level of coverage
in the new policies was cut by nearly a fourth, Texas Insurance Commissioner
Jose Montemayor told a Senate committee Thursday

March 07, 2003.
Texas : He
on Texas Builders Bill
PUBLIC HEARING COMMITTEE: Regulated Industries 2:00PM, Tuesday, March 11,
2003 Room E2.010. Bills to be heard: Registration of Builders HB1495 and
Establishing of the Texas Residential Builders Commission HB730.

March 07, 2003.
Georgia: Ga.
Lawmakers Revise Predatory Lend Law
The Georgia Legislature has
revised the state's predatory lending law, limiting legal liability for
loan abuses to the original issuer and sparking outrage among consumer
advocates who say the changes weaken protections for low-income home buyers.

March 04, 2003.
Texas: Builders
want oversight board
(The arbitrator is) the judge, the jury and
he doesn't have to follow the law," Cobarruvias said, adding the bill would
do nothing to deal with alleged abuses of the arbitration system.

March 01, 2003.
National: *New*
Forum for Fleetwood Homeowners
Fleetwood Horror Stories is a consumer
advocacy site and public forum for customers of Fleetwood manufactured

housing. Homeowners can document customer service experiences, share opinions,
and air legitimate customer service complaints and unresolved problems.
Making Fleetwood accountable for customer satisfaction, reasonable warranty
service, and proper home repairs is our goal.

March 01, 2003.
Texas: Senate
Bill 773 Relating to the registration of homebuilders.
Texas Homebuilder
Registration Act. Establishes the Texas Homebuilding Commission, a registration
requirement for all homebuilders (Not Regulation), and a voluntary dispute
resolution system.

February 28, 2003.
Texas: Interim
Report on Binding Arbitration in Consumer Contracts (PDF). Business and
Industry Committee
A report from the Business and Industry Committee
on Interim Charge #2 to review trends in the use of binding arbitration
requirements in consumer agreements, with special attention to transactions
in which the consumer has little or no bargaining power.

February 27, 2003.
Texas: Fourteenth
Court of Appeals upholds vacated arbitration award (PDF).
The trial
court vacated an arbitration award based on A evident partiality by the
sole arbitrator.æ See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. '
(Vernon Supp. 2002).æ The court concluded the arbitrator exhibited
evident partiality by failing to disclose information that he was under
a duty to disclose.æ The prevailing party in the arbitration proceeding
brought both an interlocutory appeal and a petition for writ of mandamus.æ
We affirm the trial court's order and deny the petition.

February 27, 2003.
New Jersey: Sewer
backup shows problem in disconnected pipe
Tracey Kelly is a Country
Meadows Estates homeowner also involved in litigation with K. Hovnanian.
She has been at the forefront of the homeowners‰ ongoing battles with the
builder. Her relentless investigation into the structural deficiencies
found in the homes in her development and others statewide over the course
of the last eight years eventually resulted in her being named president
of the New Jersey chapter of the national group Homeowners Against Deficient
Dwellings (HADD).

February 26, 2003.
Texas: Homeow
may get relief from KB Home
KB officials released a letter from
the firm's in-house counsel Tuesday that advises an attorney retained by
three homeowners in the Tara West Subdivision of the repurchase option.
The letter's release came on the same day that three City Council members
toured KB houses in Tara West near Potranco Road and Richland Hills Drive.

February 26, 2003.
Texas: 'Radi
commission splits buyers, homebuilders
"In theory, it would be
good to streamline the dispute process, if it were fair to both the homebuilder
and buyer," he said. "But how in the world do they have the gall to propose
that this is going to be fair and impartial, or even have the appearance
of impartiality? The only thing it does is give homebuyers another hurdle
to go through Ö and it even has them funding it."

February 25, 2003.
National: Press
Release: Houston Tx. New study warns homebuyers on the abuse of mandatory
arbitration in new home contracts.
Until the laws are changed to
prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses in new home contracts, the biggest
investment of your life, the "American Dream" will continue to have as
much protection as buying stock in Enron.

February 25, 2003.
Tennessee/National: Lawsuits,
legislation mounts on mold
Next month, Congress will discuss the
issue when a bill that would require further research and implement federal
regulations on the issue is presented. The ?Melina BillS is named after
a 7-year-old Michigan girl whose family filed suit following severe health
problems the girl developed from mold exposure only three weeks after moving
into a new home.

February 19, 2003.
National: Housing
construction rises to strongest level in 16 years
of new homes and apartments rose in January to the highest level in 16
years as low mortgage rates continued to power a housing boom, the government
reported Wednesday.

February 19, 2003.
Colorado: Johnson:
Construction measure about bucks and politics
That sound my office
mates just heard was my jaw hitting the floor. This House Bill 1611 business
just has to be a joke. Right? How this bill is at all receiving a righteous
hearing on the floor of the state Capitol simply is beyond my comprehension.

February 18, 2003.
Colorado: Building
controversy. Curbing lawsuits on home construction a bad move, some
the bill was approved by the House, Rep. Mark Larson, a Cortez Republican,
asked other lawmakers to kill it and removed himself as one of its sponsors.
Larson calls the bill "the Home Builder Indemnification Act of 2003."

February 18, 2003.
Arizona: Homeowne
battle KB Home
(May require free registration) Imagine buying a
home only to find out it sits next to an old crop dusting airport and the
ground contains pesticides. Some homeowners in Casa Grande's SK Ranch say
that's important information and it was left out of their public reports.

February 18, 2003.
Texas: KB
Homeowners Fighting Mad
Dozens of KB homeowners are fighting mad
and taking their case to City Hall. They’re complaining about problems
with their homes in the Northhampton, El Sendero and Tara subdivisions.
KB homes admits having problems with shifting soils in the Tara subdivision
but homeowners tell News 4 WOAI they wish they would have known about it
before buying their new home.

February 17, 2003.
Texas: >Mold
cleanup rules lacking
Almost two months after their water heater
burst, and six weeks after they first notified their insurer of the mold,
another adjuster came to the house and the Prices joined thousands of Texans
who've found themselves embroiled in the mold-remediation process.

February 17, 2003.
National: REAL
COMMENTS: By Nancy Seats
It is in the NAR's best interest to insist
that laws be passed to hold builders who use less than good building practices
accountable and responsible, and insist that state insurance commissioners
force insurance companies to use better business practices. It has been
proven that when the economy slumps insurance rates go up.

February 16, 2003.
Colorado: A
loss of civility at the Capitol
Dick MacRavey, veteran lobbyist
for the Colorado Water Congress, charged last week that a homebuilders'
lobbyist threatened the Water Congress that all of its bills would sleep
with the fishes if the group persisted in opposing House Bill 1161.

February 16, 2003.
Colorado: Builders'
bill recast
"This bill is beyond repair in my opinion," said Sen.
Terry Phillips, D-Louisville, who said he has been swamped with e-mails
and phone calls in opposition.

February 15, 2003.
National: Fungus
Toxic mold has emerged as a major political issue in
the last year, receiving some high-profile attention. It is usually caused
by construction defects that prevent proper drainage, something exacerbated
by airtight, energy-efficient construction methods.

February 15, 2003.
National: What
Money Buys: PBS
Money In Politics: Confidential Letters Washington
Didn't Want You To See.

February 15, 2003.
foreclosures predicted for Phoenix
Slowdown in the housing market
coupled with unemployment have forecasters predicting an increase in Phoenix
homes being foreclosured upon.

13 2003 Colorado. Homebuilders,
trial lawyers go toe to toe Millions at stake in bill on homeowners'
Majority Leader Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood, said the lobbying effort,
from the homebuilders' side, has been so ugly that it may jeopardize its
passage in the Senate.

Feb 12 2003 National.Federal
Appeals Court Affirms TLPJ’s Victory on Behalf of California Long Distance
Customers against AT&T.
Court Slams Phone Giant’s Arbitration
Clause as Unconscionable and Unenforceable Under California Consumer Protection

Feb 7 2003 Texas.Houston
Tx. Press Release: Homeowner Consumer Group Raises Concerns of New Texas
Builder Bill
It is encouraging to see the new home building industry
has acknowledged the laws in Texas do not provide adequate consumer protection
for the biggest investment of our lives. But for the builders to say this
bill will be "good for the consumers" must be taken with a grain of salt
the size of a water heater.

Jan 15 2003 California.Madera
Ca. Press Release: Centex Notifies California Centex Homeowners-
are not bound by Mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution, ADR, provisions
in Centex Sales Agreement  HADD National Director, Sandy Skipper-Lopez
(Madera, California), and attorney Douglas Grinnell (San Diego, California)
are pleased with the outcome of the Centex Lawsuit and hope it serves as
a reminder to other mass-production builders and contractors, that taking
away homeowners’ constitutional rights is not an avenue for safe residential