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Suit Alleges Defective Leisure World Work : Courts: Manager of 6,100 Laguna Hills condos seeks $1.4 million from contractors and a trust set up by developer Ross Cortese. He alleges shoddy construction of roofs, ramps built nearly 20 years ago.

September 22, 1993|JAMES S. GRANELLI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAGUNA HILLS — Nearly 20 years after the building of a large segment of the gated Leisure World retirement village, the manager of the segment's condominiums has filed a lawsuit against the developer alleging shoddy construction of roofs and ramps.

The suit, filed on behalf of Third Laguna Hills Mutual, seeks $1.4 million from the family trust set up by deceased developer Ross Cortese and from his construction companies and contractors that put up the roofs and built the ramps.

Third Laguna, which manages 6,100 of the Leisure World units, says in its Orange County Superior Court lawsuit that the roofs were "defectively constructed," leading to excessive leaking that left floors wet and caused residents and guests to slip and fall inside the homes. In addition, the suit says, leaky roofs caused damage to floors, window sills, interior walls and the contents of the homes.

The lawsuit, which was filed Friday, also charges that the ramps were defective and lacked railings, which has resulted in elderly residents and guests falling and injuring themselves.

It was unclear Tuesday whether the management company would be able to escape a state law that requires any lawsuit alleging building construction defects to be brought within 10 years after construction is substantially completed. Lawyers for Third Laguna and for the eight defendants could not be reached for comment.

The Third Laguna units, which account for about 25% of the community's living quarters, were developed by Rossmoor Corp. in 1974. Rossmoor Corp., which owned Third Laguna at the time, had brought in Wesseln Construction Co. in Anaheim to build the units, and Wesseln contracted with Southern California Roofing Co. to put up the roofs.

Besides those three companies, other defendants in the suit are the Ross Cortese Trust; its two trustees, Leonard A. Hampel and William V. March; Rossmoor Partners Ltd., the successor to Rossmoor Corp.; and Cortese Properties Inc., the general partner of Rossmoor Partners.

Ross Cortese, who also developed Rossmoor, Leisure World in Seal Beach and retirement communities nationwide, died in 1991, leaving an estate and trusts believed to be valued at $300 million to $500 million.

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