The town of Atherton has been hit with another lawsuit, this one by homeowners charging that the town and its building department's "gross negligence, fraud and breach of duties" have cost them millions of dollars and severe emotional distress. They are asking for at least $10 million in damages.
Kimberly Sweidy and her husband, Raymie Stata, filed the lawsuit Wednesday (Oct. 20) in San Mateo County Superior Court. In addition to the town, the couple names two former building officials -– Mike Hood and Mike Wasmann -– as well as consultant Michael Cully in the suit.
The lawsuit charges the defendants with breach of duty, fraud, conspiracy to breach duty, and a "taking" of property, which the couple says has substantially decreased in value "due to the unfinished or improper design and construction."
Ms. Sweidy, Mr. Stata, and their two daughters moved into their 8,000-square-foot Atherton home on Broadacres Road in 2007, after a years-long period of construction. After moving in, they discovered major structural deficiencies, inadequate plumbing and electrical work, and a long list of other problems. They are now spending millions of dollars to make the house structurally sound and repair other problems.
Plan reviews for the home, as well as regular inspections and the final sign-off on its code-compliance and safety, were performed by the town's building department, which at the beginning of the project was headed by Mr. Hood until his abrupt retirement in 2006, then by Mr. Wasmann. Mr. Wasmann retired in August amid charges by the couple and other residents that he didn't have proper credentials and qualifications to head the department.
The Almanac published an article in August about the couple's complaints against the town.
In addition to asking for damages "in excess of $10 million," the couple is asking for punitive damages against Mr. Wasmann, charging that he "acted with malice, fraud, oppression, evil motive or intent, or with reckless/callous disregard of and indifference to" their rights, interests and well-being.
The town and individuals named in the lawsuit could not immediately be reached for comment.