Home owners failed to disclose flooding issues, couple claims

Kelly Holleran Feb. 22, 2010, 2:24am

A Madison County couple claims a real estate company and the previous owners of their home conspired to hide recurrent basement flooding issues from them when they decided to purchase the property.

Ross and Cynthia Kennedy filed a complaint Feb. 10 in Madison County Circuit Court against Thomas and Bonnie Whalen, Paul R. Lauschke and Associates and Pat and Tom Prullage.

The Kennedys claim they purchased property from the Whalens at 11 Frontenac Place in Godfrey on Feb. 13, 2009, for $167,500. Little did they know at the time that the basement had recurrent flooding issues.

The Whalens hid the information from the Kennedys and did not include it on the residential real property disclosure provided to the Kennedys when they bought the home, according to the complaint.

The Kennedys insist the Whalens knew of the problem since they purchased the house in 2006. Then, the previous owner, Shahrenas Ghoneim, included the fact in her residential real property disclosure, the suit states.

The Kennedys believe the Whalens' realtors, the Prullages of Paul R. Lauschke and Associates, advised them on how to fill out the form. Because the same realtors listed the property in 2006, they knew of the flooding issue when they helped the Whalens fill out the disclosure and should have included such a fact in the report, the complaint says.

However, the Kennedys claim they did not discover the problem until September, when their home sustained $50,000 worth of damages due to flooding.

Even a home inspection would not have revealed the recurrent flooding problems because the basement was finished and concealed the defects, according to the complaint.

The Kennedys allege violation of the Residential Real Propery Disclosure Act, violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Businesses Practice Act, violation of the Illinois Real Estate License Act and negligence against the defendants.

In their five-count suit, the couple seeks a judgment of more than $250,000, plus attorney's fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Emily J. Johnson of Johnson Law Firm in Alton will be representing them.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-148.

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