Negligent dishwasher usage harshes plaintiffs' mellow

Ann Knef Sep. 12, 2007, 10:00am

Negligent usage of a dishwasher may end up costing St. Clair County defendants dearly.

Brian and Crystal Kennedy of St. Louis filed suit against Dirk and Amy Schaumleffel of Belleville over a water leak that occurred last year at the Harbour Towne Condominiums in Lake Ozark, Mo.

The Kennedys claim water intrusion, originating from the Schaumleffels' condo above, rendered theirs inhabitable for 201 days and forced them to obtain alternate accommodations for several summer holidays and family gatherings. In addition, the Kennedys claim they have incurred substantial out-of-pocket expenses, aggravation and inconvenience.

According to the complaint filed Sept. 6, the cost of renting a comparable condo for the period of time the Kennedys were deprived of using theirs would have been $70,350.

"Mr. Kennedy's plans to spend his first summer of retirement living in his condo were ruined," the complaint states. "Instead of planning barbecues and boating trips at the lake with their family and friends, plaintiffs were forced to spend countless hours and spend substantial amounts of money restoring their condo."

The suit claims the Schaumleffels replaced plastic water lines with stainless steel water lines in their condo sometime prior to March 26, 2006, without hiring a professional plumber.

"Defendants failed to solicit the advice or inspection of a professional plumber to verify that the water lines had been replaced correctly," the complaint states.

The Kennedys claim that beginning March 26, 2006, and lasting for several days, a water leak emanated from the Schaumleffels condo causing extensive water damage.

"...[P]rior to leaving for this extended period of time, defendants started their dishwasher," the complaint states. "Upon information and belief, the defendants' dishwasher was operating when they left their condo..."

The suit also claims the defendants were negligent for failing to turn off their condo's water supply before leaving it on March 26, 2006.

According to the suit, the water damage and mold growth required the Kennedys to demolish and replace walls, floors, sub-floors, and ceiling in the middle of their condo. Other walls and carpet had to be cleaned and deodorized.

"Moreover, plaintiffs were forced to move their personal belongings and furniture that were not damaged by the initial water intrusion into offsite storage facilities to prevent further damage and allow for repairs to plaintiffs' condo," the complaint states.

They claim that an inspection aurhorized by the Schaumleffels' insurer, Country Mutual, did not take place until five weeks after the damage occurred.

The Kennedys also claim the Schaumleffels and Country Mutual never objected to the repairs or cost estimates they provided.

"With the purchase of their condo, plaintiffs had acquired the second home they had always hoped to own," the complaint states. "Mr. Kennedy resigned from his job on March 24, 2006, shortly after purchasing the condo and he was eager to enjoy his retirement by living in the condo and taking pleasure in the scenic view from their condo, fishing and boating at the Lake of the Ozarks."

The Kennedys, represented by Joseph M. Kellmeyer of Thompson Coburn in Belleville, seek in excess of $150,000 in damages, plus an amount per day for each day they lost use of their condo, as well as an amount in excess of $1,000 to compensate them for the depreciation in the market value of their condo caused by the water damage, interest and costs of the suit.

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