By Jesse Wood
Sept. 23, 2013. Two plaintiffs were added to a class-action lawsuit against Capstone Properties and Capstone Collegiate Communities on Sept. 20 because of delays to The Cottages of Boone student-housing development in Watauga County.
On behalf of ASU student Jonathan Schneider, Paul Capua of Capua Law Firm in Boone filed the initial class-action lawsuit, which exceeds $25,000, on Aug. 16, for unfair and deceptive trade practices among other complaints.
The complaint alleges that Capstone has failed to acquire certificates of occupancy in a timely manner; Capstone has failed to reimburse plaintiffs for out-of-pocket expenses; the fair-market value of the units are inhabitable and are in a state of unfit conditions; and a full-months rent plus a $200 administrative fee were paid for August even though the initial tenants didn’t move in until midway through August.
Capstone began leasing the units for the 894-bedroom development in the spring of 2013 for the student-housing resort that was slated to house tenants before the fall semester. In June, Jen Wilson, vice president for The Cottages, noted that 40 residences for roughly 360 tenants would be “delayed for a short period time,” and that students would be staying in hotels temporarily.
Days before the Aug. 15 move-in date, tenants were notified that the opening move-in date would be moved to Aug. 18. Since then, “slowly but surely” has been the motto of The Cottages acquiring certificates of occupancy.
Initially, 249 bedrooms received certificates of occupancy, and according to the most recent figures by Watauga County Planning & Inspections Director Joe Furman, units representing 534 bedrooms have been certified. John Vawter Sr., principal of Capstone, said two weeks ago that all the students would move in by winter. He noted that the weather and the “remote location” of Watauga County wreaked havoc on completing The Cottages on time.
As for the class-action lawsuit, the plaintiffs seeek $4,000 each in damages plus any amount decided through a trial and attorney fees.
While Schneider and Deanna Reary and Langdon Clay are the only names listed in the class-action suit, the complaint states, “The Class Members are so numerous that the individual joinder of all members is impractical. While exact number of Class Members is unknown to the Plaintiffs at this time, it is easily ascertainable through appropriate discovery.”
Two weeks ago, an Asheville-based parent of two students with leases for The Cottages noted that she had contacted a local law firm and was considering a class-action lawsuit herself if a number of other people came forward. On Monday, Colleen Ledford hadn’t heard of the lawsuit that was filed on Aug. 16 and said that she has yet to file the lawsuit.
When asked about class-action lawsuits against Capstone two weeks ago, Vawter declined to comment.
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