Judge Clears the Way for a Jury Trial in the Luxury Harborview Condo Mold Suit

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Judge rules that there is sufficient evidence that Zalco Realty and the Council of Unit Owners did engage in fraud and misrepresentation

Steven D. Silverman, of Baltimore's Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, represents luxury condo owner

Imagine paying over $1.15 million dollars for a posh condominium overlooking the inner harbor only to have a warning sign placed at entrance of your new home just months after moving in warning people to wear a respirator upon entering.

According to the case brought before the Circuit Court for Baltimore City 24-C-10-007236OT, that’s exactly what happened to Harborview resident Paul C. Clark, who hasn’t been able to live in his luxury condominium since March 2010. Clark sued Zalco Realty and the 100 Harborview Drive Council of Unit Owners for misrepresentation and damages among other things. Zalco and the 100 Harborview Unit owners challenged the suit hoping an arbitration clause found in their By-Laws would keep them out of court. Baltimore Circuit Court Judge John Addison Howard, however, disagreed with Harborview and issued an opinion clearing the way for a jury trial against the realty company and the Council of Unit Owners.

Judge Howard ruled in favor of Clark, finding sufficient evidence that Zalco Realty and the Council of Unit Owners did engage in fraud and misrepresentation before the contract with the arbitration clause was signed.

The Harborview luxury condominium building is located at 100 Harborview Drive, Baltimore, MD. According to Clark’s attorney Steven D. Silverman, over the past few years some residents have been forced to move out of the building because of mold that experts say made particular units in the building unsafe.

Clark had his lawyer Steven D. Silverman, managing partner of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White file suit nine months ago. The case was stalled while the Circuit Court ruled whether Clark would be forced to arbitrate rather than allowed to seek redress through the courts.

Judge Howard is allowing a jury trial to proceed because Howard ruled in favor of evidence that illustrates the owners of the building and their realty company were in fact aware of the water and mold problems before Clark and his young son moved in.

On Sept. 29, 2009 Zalco Realty and the Council of Unit Owners, as required by the Maryland Contractors Association, issued a Resale Certification for the Condominium. In the Resale Certification, Zalco and the building owners stated “the Association has no knowledge of any violations of building or health code [sic] with respect to the unit or common elements assigned thereto . . . . Further, the Association has no knowledge of any health or building code violations for any other portion of the condominium.

The Clarks relied upon this in the decision to purchase the unit.

Harborview is a "concierge" building and boasts unparalled amenities and water views. Some units are valued in the millions. Harborview Condominiums is a luxury condominium building located in Baltimore. Harborview Condominiums is managed by its Board of Directors with Baltimore resident and Harborview condo owner John Cochran serving as the building’s president.

According to the condominium building’s By-Laws and the Maryland Condominium Act, the responsibilities of the Council, through the Board of Directors, include regulating the use, maintenance, repair, replacement, and modification of common elements of the Property. MD. CODE ANN., REAL PROP. § 11-108.1.
Mold spores have been detected in the ceiling, air ducts, and air in condominiums, all of which directly resulted from the water damage caused by the Board of Director’s neglect of common elements. Mold has also been found on the grand piano in the condominium common area.

According to the court documents, the mold, identified as Stachybotrys chartarum, or “black mold,” produces spores that infiltrate the air and produce poisonous mycotoxins. Some residents have been advised that the condominium is unsafe to inhabit and as a result, have been forced to move out.

Thirteen months ago, the Board of Directors held a Town Hall Meeting and a Mold Awareness workshop for building residents. Reporters who tried to attend the meeting were escorted out of the building.

Available for interview:
Steven D. Silverman, Managing Partner, Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White

About Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White
http://www.mdattorney.comMaryland based law firm Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White, an AV rated law firm by Martindale-Hubbell, is widely regarded as one of the premier litigation firms in the mid-Atlantic region. They have achieved extraordinary success for their clients across Maryland and throughout the United States. For more information, please visit http://www.mdattorney.com.


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Karen McGagh
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