SC Supreme Court: Sun City stucco case may proceed

rlurye@islandpacket.comDecember 18, 2013 

File: The house at 25 Crescent Creek has its stucco removed to the framing in Sun City Hilton Head.

SARAH WELLIVER — SARAH WELLIVER Buy Photo

A judge can mail notices to nearly 4,300 Sun City Hilton Head residents by mid-February, signaling the start of a class-action lawsuit alleging stucco damage, according to the residents' attorney.

Stucco applicator S.C. State Plastering Co. and Sun City developer Del Webb Communities had delayed the notices since November 2012, when they argued before the S.C. Supreme Court that a judge wrongly granted class-action status to the lawsuits against them.

On Dec. 10, more than four months after the plaintiffs sought to end that delay, the state Supreme Court ordered the case to proceed.

"This is much sooner than we expected," said Michael Seekings, one of four attorneys representing Sun City residents.

Seekings said Dec. 12 that he planned to send the order to Judge J. Michael Baxley, who would sign the notices and send them out within 60 days. Subsequent attempts to reach Seekings were unsuccessful.

In 2012, Baxley designated the lawsuit of Sun City couple Anthony and Barbara Grazia as a class-action case after about 140 other residents sued individually.

Residents say their homes have been damaged from improperly applied stucco, which can cause mold. Some houses have minor damage, while others need partial replacement of walls.

Once residents receive notices, they will have at least two months to opt out of the lawsuit, according to Seekings. The plastering company and three third-party defendants -- Del Webb, Pulte Homes and Kephart Architects -- will then have an opportunity to assess each home's stucco damage.

In class action cases, some people who believe they have suffered damage choose not to join the class, preferring instead to proceed with their own individual lawsuits.

A second appeal by the defendants is still in the works. In November 2012, they requested that the team of lawyers representing the residents be prohibited from communicating with the residents. A ruling is pending before the S.C. Court of Appeals, which heard arguments from both sides Nov. 6.

Attempts this week to reach the defendants' attorneys were unsuccessful. The Grazias declined comment.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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