Lane landlord case to be part of mediation week

By Lawrence Smith | Sep 18, 2009


CHARLESTON - A dispute between a Cross Lanes attorney, who's also a member of the state House of Delegates, and one of his former tenants is scheduled for mediation next month.

The case of Catherine E. Moore v. The Lane Group will be among the cases heard during Settlement Week Alternative Resolution by Mediation in Kanawha Circuit Court the week of Oct. 5. Held the first full week in April and October, SWARM is a voluntary program that allows litigants an attempt to resolve their dispute with a mediator approved by the state Bar.

According to Kanawha County Court Manager Jimmy Thaxton, along with Moore's, 35 cases are scheduled for the October SWARM. Moore's case is slated for mediation on Wednesday, Oct. 7.

In her suit filed May 8 with the assistance of Legal Aid attorneys Steven J. Conifer and Susan Duarte, Moore alleged The Lane Group rented her a dilapidated apartment on Dec. 17, 2007. The Lane Group is solely owed by Patrick Lane.

Moore alleged the apartment, located on 34th Street in Charleston, lacked sufficient heat causing her to stay with her mother during most of January 2008. Any heat she did have come from the stove, when the pilot light stayed lit.

Despite assurances he would, Moore said Lane never replaced the moldy refrigerator that lacked a freezer door that came with the apartment. She alleges she had to store any perishable items in a cooler.

When Lane refused to return her repeated calls to improve the apartment, she called the city building inspector. Records show on Feb. 28 he "declared it unfit for human habitation" citing, among other things, insufficient ventilation for a gas heater, and no smoke alarms.

After Lane sold the building to its new owner in April 2008, Moore said she informed the new landlord of the inspector's findings, and moved out. Records show she now lives on 31st Street in Charleston.

In addition to $2,101 in restitution for rent, cable and cleaning expenses, Moore is asking she be awarded $5,000 in damages.

On June 1, Lane filed his answer to Moore's suit. He denied most of her allegations except that he was served with a notice of code violations by the city building inspector, and that he did sell the building, but was unaware that Moore moved out.

According to the Kanawha County Clerk's Office, Lane purchased the building from Kurtis St. John on Nov. 27, 2007, a month before he leased the apartment to Moore. He later sold the building to Jerry and Edith Lacy on March 10, 2008, a month before Moore vacated the apartment.

The Lacys, records show, didn't own the building long as they sold it, and four other adjacent properties, on Oct. 8 to Grand G. Properties in Los Angeles, Calif.

Lane, who filed his answer pro se, asked that the suit be dismissed, and he be awarded court costs, and attorney fees.

In addition to being an attorney, Lane, 34, is one of the three delegates representing Kanawha County's 32nd District. A Republican, Lane was first elected to the House in 2004.

Should mediation fail, the case is slated for trial on Dec. 14 before Judge Louis H. "Duke" Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court, case number 09-C-865

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