Maag's pursuit of leaky roof claim stayed

By Steve Korris | Dec 7, 2005

Attorney Thomas Maag of the Lakin Law Firm thought he could press a leaky roof claim out of client Armettia Peach in two courts at once, but Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian has temporarily closed his courtroom to Maag and Peach.

At a Dec. 2 hearing, Matoesian stayed Peach's suit against Granite City and city resident Kevin Link. He entered the order over Maag's objection.

Matoesian said he lacked jurisdiction because Maag appealed an Aug. 16 order in which Matoesian vacated a default judgment against Granite City.

The city moved for a stay in September. Attorney Jane Unsell argued that if the circuit court proceeded to judgment in Peach's favor and the appellate court reversed the Aug. 16 order, Peach would win two judgments for one injury.

Peach sued Link, David Lambert and Granite City in 2004. She claimed water leaked through the roof at 9 Briarcliff Drive and ruined the house.

She charged that Link and Lambert performed cosmetic repairs that hid defects. Peach also charged that Granite City improperly approved an occupancy permit.

The complaint implied that Link sold the house to Peach.

Link and Lambert answered the complaint. Granite City did not. Peach dismissed Lambert, conditionally dismissed Link, and moved for default judgment against the city.

Matoesian granted default judgment in July 2004. Adding the cost of the property, repairs, and attorney's fees, he awarded Peach $104,259.17.

Granite City, upon receiving the bill, moved to vacate the judgment. Unsell argued that the city did not respond because the complaint stated no claim against the city.

In March, the Record reported that according to county property records, Link sold the house to Chad Carpenter, not to Peach.

The Record reported that Carpenter signed the title over to Peach seven months later on a quit claim deed.

Link told the Record in March that Peach gave him a down payment of $20,000 in $20 bills. He said he took the money home, spread it on a table and photographed it. The Record printed the photograph.

Link told the Record that at the closing of the sale, Peach introduced Carpenter and said he would buy the house.

Granite City hired a title company to confirm the Record's research. The title company reported that Peach did not buy the property from Link.

At an Aug. 16 hearing, Matoesian granted the city's motion to vacate the default judgment. Maag appealed the order to the Fifth District Appellate Court.

Maag then moved to reinstate Link as a defendant. Matoesian granted the motion.

Link moved to dismiss, as Granite City had already done. Matoesian wrote in his Dec. 2 order that he imposed the stay in lieu of ruling on all pending motions.

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