Cross Lanes pastor sues over pool, threats

By Justin Anderson | Feb 23, 2009

CHARLESTON -- A local pastor says a Kanawha County company did a shoddy job installing a pool in his yard and that an officer of the company threatened him because he refused to pay for the job.

Mark Newland, a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, is suing SMR Ltd., doing business as Fireside & Patio Shop and Stephen Reynolds II in a lawsuit filed Feb. 13 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Newland claims he bought an 12-feet by 24-feet "Indiana" style above ground swimming pool from Fireside & Patio Shop in April 2008. The pool was to be installed in Newland's yard at his Cross Lanes home.

As part of the agreement, the company agreed to "terrace" Newland's yard for a patio in addition to installing the pool.

The job was to cost $4,056, of which Newland made a $2,056 as a down payment. The money came from a housing allowance given Newland by the church, according to the complaint filed by Newland's lawyer Christopher D. Negley.

Between April 16, 2008, and June 16, 2008, Newland claims the company installed the pool, but did a poor job.

According to the complaint, the pool leaked and needed to be partially refilled every three or four days; the screws holding the ladder onto the pool were loose and caused the ladder to fall off the pool and break apart when Newland's daughter climbed it; the skimmer basket wouldn't stay in place; screw heads protruded through the pool liner; and the pool was set on lackluster supports, making it unstable.

Newland claims he contacted the company to come out and fix the pool. But instead, according to the complaint, one of the company's employees instead made disaparaging remarks to Newland's neighbors who had also sought the company's services. Newland said these comments denigrated his character and he didn't find out about them until later.

On June 17, 2008, Newland claims his young daughter was swimming in the pool when another person entered the pool. That person's weight made one of the walls "flex" because of the poor stability. The flexing wall hit his daughter in the face, breaking her nose, the complaint says.

Newland claims no one used the pool after that.

The next day, Newland claims Stephen Reynolds came to his home and demanded the rest of the money for the work the company did in installing the pool. Newland alleges Reynolds "physically confronted" him by grabbing his arms and shaking him. Newland said he was fearful and apprehensive because of the situation.

About July 6, 2008, Newland claims that Reynolds again confronted him for the payment. This time it was in the middle of Sears at the Charleston Town Center Mall. Newland said the event humiliated him and made him afraid of again running into Reynolds in public.

Neverthless, Newland says the company never repaired the pool. He claims it now has to be removed because it's in danger of sliding down the hillside into a neighbor's home because the pool is unstable.

Newland is seeking various compensatory and punitive damages plus legal fees.

The case has been assigned Circuit Judge Duke Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-245

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