Phila. condo association and management co. face bad faith complaint

By Jon Campisi | Jul 24, 2012

A widow who purchased a condominium in Philadelphia’s Roxborough neighborhood in order to be closer to remaining family, but who claims she couldn’t live on her property due to maintenance problems, has filed a bad faith lawsuit against the condo association and the property management company overseeing the development.

Susanne Vaughan, who owns a condo unit on Shawmont Avenue, is suing the Green Tree Run Association Board of Directors, the Community Association Management Company (CAMCO), and the chairman and CEO of CAMCO, Philip Harvey.

The pro se civil action was filed July 17 at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court by Vaughan and co-plaintiffs Frank and Nancy Piccolo.

The Piccolos, who appear to be related to Vaughan, reside on nearby Mitchell Street in Roxborough.

The lawsuit claims that Vaughan purchased the condo unit to be closer to family and to have easy access to the accommodations available in the Green Tree Run Community.

Vaughan had lost her husband of 40-plus years to lung cancer in 2003 and she lost her youngest daughter, Susanne, to a brain aneurism two years after that.

The complaint goes on to state that during the past five years, Vaughan’s property has been infiltrated by sewage and sewage gases, problems that were tied to inadequate plumbing in the residential development’s common area.

The suit states that the drainpipe material is terra cotta and was installed in the 1970s without strict plumbing codes being enforced.

The terra cotta material can be breached by tree roots, the complaint states, something that allegedly occurred in this case.

The suit states that Philadelphia’s plumbing code requires a much strong material such as cast iron in order to prevent such problems from occurring.

“The Defendants have not taken the responsibility for the problem for reasons unknown and as a result, there has been five years of the Plaintiffs being displaced from the Property,” the lawsuit states. “The cost to repair the damaged drainpipe after the first backup would have eliminated the five years of damages, financial loss and pain and suffering incurred by the Plaintiffs.”

The lawsuit contains counts of intentional breach of contract, intentional gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The complaint further alleges that the defendants never advertised the land as being private property, that the defendants are incorporated and that the defendants are a nonprofit organization.

The suit says the defendants breached the agreement of sale property damage disclosure form by not stating the true defects and damages of the common area plumbing/electrical/infrastructure.

Other examples of alleged breach of contract are also listed.

Under the gross negligence claim, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants showed no professionalism in addressing the plaintiffs’ complaints, that the plaintiffs have suffered five years of denied insurance coverage that was and is being paid for by the plaintiffs through the condo fee agreement, and that the defendants did not follow proper procedure in contacting the insurance carriers to fully investigate the problem causing sewage backups.

The suit also claims the defendants used “intimidation and slander” toward the plaintiffs, which has increased “substantially” during the past five years and has made the property in question a “zone of danger.”

The lawsuit seeks to have a judge declare that the defendants take full responsibility for any liens, violations or other costs adhered to the property; that the plaintiffs be free and clear of all legal obligations that could arise in regards to the property; and that the plaintiffs be awarded the rightful coverage due to them under the insurance policy, whereas the plaintiffs are owed the general aggregate limit of $2 million and the personal injury limit of $1 million.

The case ID number is 120702329. 

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