A yearslong lawsuit brought by scores of Sun City Hilton Head residents against a contractor accused of faulty stucco installation on thousands of homes appears to be moving toward a settlement — shortly before it's scheduled to go to trial.
An email forwarded to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette by multiple Sun City residents says "a tentative settlement has been reached in the stucco class action lawsuit. Therefore there will not be a trial taking place as originally scheduled on (Monday) June 11."
Parties associated with the case are mum and details about the settlement are not available. But the contractor already has paid millions to a group of people who opted out of the case. Given the number of homes included in the suit — and the amount of money plaintiffs have asked for — the settlement could total even more.
The case, Anthony Grazia v. South Carolina State Plastering et al. — which now includes some 4,000 Sun City homeowners — was initially supposed to go to trial before Judge Edgar Dickson in the 14th Judicial Circuit on Monday in Beaufort, according to Beaufort County court records.
But Dickson ordered last week that the trial be rescheduled for early August, and reserved Monday's date for a motion hearing.
South Carolina State Plastering LLC (SCSP), the lead defendant, applied stucco to about 4,500 Sun City homes from 1998 to 2007, according to court documents. Anthony and Barbara Grazia filed their suit in May 2007, and it became a class-action case in 2012.
Residents have said their homes were damaged by improperly applied stucco, which can cause mold. Some houses had minor damage, while others needed partial replacement of walls.
Del Webb Communities Inc. (which operates Sun City), Pulte Homes Inc. and Kephart Architects Inc. are third-party defendants in the suit, since SCSP alleged it installed the stucco under the direction and design of those companies.
Court documents show that 187 people opted out of the case and took individual settlements from SCSP ranging from $1,500 to $50,000. The combined payout totaled more than $2.6 million.
According to court documents, defense attorneys said, as of August 2017, their clients had spent "approximately $23 million ... to date in attempted corrections as part of the Right to Cure Process."
The S.C. Right to Cure Act requires a homeowner to give 90 days notice of the intent to file a lawsuit over construction and lays out a timeline for a contractor or subcontractor to assess the situation and offer repairs, money or some another solution.
However, plaintiffs in the Grazia suit "allege that the only appropriate repair of the damaged homes is to de-clad and then re-clad the houses with an appropriate stucco system, at a cost of approximately $75,000.00 per structure," according to court documents.
When reached Friday afternoon, a representative of Dickson's office said the judge could not comment on the case or scheduling matters associated with it, and said Charleston attorney Michael Seekings was the point of contact.
Seekings, listed as one of the plaintiffs' attorneys on court documents, did not return a phone message and email left for him Friday morning.
John Chakeris and Phillip Segui, also representing the plaintiffs, did not return phone messages left with their offices.
Defense attorney Victor Rawl Jr. declined to comment when reached Friday afternoon. And defense attorneys Suzanne Deters and Marshall Crane could not be reached immediately for comment.
Sun City resident Ross Glatzer, whose name appeared on the email, could not be reached for comment. Neither could Jason Schloss, likewise listed on the email.
When reached Friday afternoon, Anthony Grazia declined to comment.
The email, which Sun City residents received this week, said, "Our lawyers anticipate that it will take some time to get the settlement finalized, as there are a number of details still to be worked through.
"Over the next few weeks we will issue updates starting in about 30 days, as they progress towards finalizing the settlement."