February 4, 2010
Reported by: Hailey Winslow
The battle between a city agency and a City Councilman begins…
City Councilman Ronald Sparks and the Wilmington Housing Authority went to court Thursday morning. Sparks was trying to get a judge to throw out the WHA’s lawsuit against him, stemming from problems with the Authority’s purchase of Eastbrook Apartments.
The big discussion in court today was if Sparks can get a fair trial. His attorneys say the media has been telling just one side of the story.
The Wilmington Housing Authority is suing Councilman Ronald Sparks, because he recommended the purchase of the Eastbrook Apartment complex after inspecting it for them back in 2005. The complex later had to be evacuated because of mold problems, and still sits empty today.
Sparks attorneys told a superior court judge Thursday they can’t get a fair trial. They say the constant media coverage about Eastbrook has been one-sided. Sparks’ attorneys say they declined comment on several occasions to protect the case, while WHA attorneys say the public has a right to know.
“It’s a public housing agency and obviously anything that is of legitimate public concern by a public agency ought to be held in a forum where the public can participate”, says WHA Attorney Gary Shipman.
Following Sparks recommendation, WHA paid more than one million dollars for the apartment complex, only to find out it was too moldy to live in.
The housing authority is suing Sparks’ Engineering firm for negligence. But Sparks’ attorneys told the judge sparks made note of “moisture and mildew problems” in his report.
The judge said despite the media coverage, the case should still go to trial. He also denied a request from sparks attorneys to move the trial to a special business court.
“The losses that we seek to recover are substantial in terms of quantifying those loses, we’ll quantify them in court,” says Shipman.
Despite several chances to comment on the case Thursday, sparks and his attorneys declined. The case is going to be tried at the New Hanover County Courthouse in April.
Information on Riverstone Residential knowingly exposing tenants to extreme amounts of mold toxins at Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) – files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry
A letter to the NAA regarding an email they deleted without reading – please retract your amicus in the Abad case in Arizona – it is fraud by a political action committee, the National Apartment Association, that is furthering another fraud by another political action committee, the US Chamber of Commerce
“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer