Del Webb has moved from defense to offense in a class action lawsuit filed against the company in April alleging that hundreds of homes in its Sun City Anthem community in Las Vegas have construction defects.
Pulte Homes' active-adult unit has petitioned to have the lawsuit moved from local civil court to federal court where Del Webb already has its own case pending against a company it says deceived residents into having their homes inspected for defects and then funneled the leads to attorneys who filed the class action lawsuit.
Del Webb contends that M.C. Mojave Construction and two individuals associated with the company were using deceptive business practices when they canvassed the neighborhoods, offering homeowners free home inspections that ended up not being free because the homeowners assigned the rights to recover the fees from the builder to Mojave.
Del Webb also asserts that Mojave was not licensed to inspect and failed to disclose that it would turn over its inspection reports to attorneys who would start legal proceedings called Chapter 40 notices under Nevada law. Once a Chapter 40 filing is in place, the builder may only service warrantable items by following Chapter 40 procedures. Also, once a Chapter 40 has been filed, it must be disclosed as a defect when the home is sold.
The company also accused Mojave of leading homeowners to believe that they represented Del Webb.
Del Webb's argument was strong enough to earn it an injunction from a federal judge last October against Mojave and Charles Leslie Partington and John Wilson, two agents of the company who Del Webb says are unlicensed to perform home inspections.
"We work hard to maintain the trust of our home buyers," Del Webb spokesman Jacque Petroulakis wrote to Big Builder. "To have a company mislead homeowners about their relationship or affiliation with our company is unacceptable."
In addition, Petroulakis said Mojave interfered with home warranties, and the result was "litigation that our homeowners never anticipated. We believe M.C. Mojave does a huge disservice to homeowners by pushing them into the Chapter 40 process on items that are not issues at all, or, that can be easily repaired. Homeowners don't realize that the actions of M.C. Mojave can result in a loss of their ability to work with the builder."
Mojave's attorneys did not return Big Builder's calls related to the case. However, in Mojave's answer to Del Webb's allegations, it says its agents are not required to be licensed to look for code violations in homes and that they haven't been paid any fees by the homeowners, but are seeking to recover those fees as part of its lawsuit against Del Webb. It said it was not promoting litigation, only communicating the homeowners' rights under law and asserted that Del Webb has not denied that the homes had defects.
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