Man says developer failed on many levels

CHARLES TOWN - A Berkeley County man is suing a West Virginia developer for unlawful land development and home building.

John Sentell filed a case Dec. 18 against C & R Development, LLC after the company breached a contract, refused to accept termination of the contract and would not return Sentell's deposit money.

April 6, 2006, John and Jeanmarie Sentell signed a contract with C & R to have a Lindal Cedar home built on property in Jefferson County. The contract stated settlement would be made by Sept. 1.

An initial deposit of $65,000 was due upon signing the agreement, and an additional $45,000 was due by June 1. The full balance of $1,149,000 was to be paid upon settlement.

In June the contractor asked for an extension of the original completion date. The date was changed from Aug. 1 to Nov. 1. A Sales Contract Addendum indicated a right to extend the date only "due to supplier backorder delays, weather or acts of nature that are out of their control."

After the Sales Contract Addendum was signed, the contractor asked the Sentells to pay one-third of the price of the home. The Sentells refused and then noticed work on the home slowed considerably.

"Upon information and belief, (the contractor) delayed work on (Sentells') home in order to force them to meet his demands that they pay more money upfront for their home prior to settlement than they had agreed to pay in the contract," the suit states.

On. Nov. 1, 2006, the home "appeared to be far from finished." The Sentells claim they were never told of any delays. They then informed the contractor's agent they considered the contract terminated due to the fact the contractor did not act in accordance with the contract and requested their deposit be returned.

The Sentells received a response refusing to return the deposit and insisting it would attempt to enforce the sales contract. The Sentells then had to rent a home for John Sentell in Martinsburg so he would not have to travel a far distance to work in inclement weather.

"(The Sentells) trusted the terms of the contract would be upheld and their home would be ready by Nov. 1, 2006, because they believed that the contract's requirement that the home be finished as of that date was clear and that all the parties understood that time was of the essence," the suit states.

The suit also claims the work that had been completed on the home was of a low quality, and the structure was unsafe.

Also, upon further inspection, Charles Mazaris, who owns more than 10 percent of C & R Development, has been identified as an Employer Violator of the Worker's Compensation System and is prohibited from obtaining any license, certificate or permit issued by West Virginia.

Therefore, C & R Development does not have a business license, a contractor's license, any state license, and is not qualified to do business in West Virginia.

The Sentells are seeking compensatory damages, including the loss of their deposit, and are asking the contract be voided, as well as punitive damages paid by C & R Development.

The suit was filed in Jefferson County by M. Dawn Alexander of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC.

Jefferson Circuit Court case number 06-C-417

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