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Glover Neighbors Told They Are On Their Own To Fight For Blasting Damages

Almost 30 claims have been filed against blasting company for damages to homes on the same ledge as the new school.

The attorney for the town and school district was blunt Thursday night with his advice to the neighbors of the under-construction Glover School. He said they should "pool their resources and hire an attorney."

Neither the school district nor the town government was able to do more to resolve their complaints about cracked walls and foundations than it already has, said Pat Costello, a partner with the Boston firm of Louison, Costello, Condon & Pfaff.

"The town has done all it can and more," Costello said.

He said he understood how frustrating the situation is for the homeowners. "We want to work with you to bring closure for you on these issues," Costello said.

But when pressed on what the town might do, he said it would hurt the process if the town got involved.

The more than two dozen neighbors who came to the meeting in the music room at the Village School were frustrated. One said he was "offended" by Costello's message.

"That is ridiculous and insulting to tell us we are on our own," said neighbor Barton Hyte. "You are throwing us under the bus."

Costello said state law was very specific. The blasting company, Maine Drilling and Blasting, has a strict liability to pay for the damages it caused.

Twenty-seven homeowners along Alden, Columbia, Homestead Roads and Tedesco Street have filed claims against Maine Drilling and Blasting. Most of the houses where the owners say they now have cracks and other problems are on the same ledge formation as that of the school, but many of them are outside a 250-foot radius from the blast site, which is supposed to be the potential damage zone.

To build the foundation for the new $25 million school, the construction company had to blast away a substantial amount of rock.

The blasting company, after a post-blast inspection of the homes, sent the homeowners a form letter denying their claims and suggesting that they file a claim with their personal homeowners' insurance company.

"If I were representing you, I would send a poison pen letter to the insurance company, demanding that it pay up or go to court," Costello said.

He noted that the insurance companies were liable for treble damages if the court finds the blasting company caused the damages to the homes.

Several homeowners said they were considering filing suit, but they were not sure who they would sue. In addition to the blasting company and its insurance company, several suggested they might also sue the general contractor, G&R Construction, and possibly the town for not protecting their properties from the school construction.

Costello, who has been representing cities and towns for 25 years, said he would expect any suit against the town would be dismissed quickly. 

The neighbors are planning to hold a meeting in the next couple of weeks, where they will decide on the next steps. 

"We will write a formal complaint letter and send to all involved parties (including various insurance companies), stating that there are 27 or more houses that have sustained damage," wrote Kaarina Kvaavik, a neighbor, after the meeting.  

School Superintendent Dr. Greg Maass said he has sent the claims of 15 homeowners to USI Insurance Services of New England, the insurance company for the blasting company. The company is based in Manchester, N.H.

B. Dettore February 01, 2013 at 03:54 PM
It certainly seems curious that the town of Marblehead's attorney (representing the corporation -- not the taxpayers) has summarily concluded that "any suit against the town would be dismissed quickly." Mr. Costello's confidence is surprising, at best. Any attorney would tell you that only two things in life are certain (death & taxes). (Un)fortunately, dismissal is not one of them ... Unless, of course, as the town government's "hired gun" he was simply trying to protect his client. Unless of course, his aim was to confuse (and insult the intelligence of) the town residents by making statements that he knew were false. (Which brings up the old saying about insult and injury) I hope the residents are successful in their endeavor.
K. Kvaavik February 01, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Thank you so much for your comment. We certainly appreciate any and all encouragement we can get. You are absolutely correct - it was insulting to hear what Mr. Costello had to say yesterday. The behavior that we've been met with, from the beginning, has however not been a deterrent (as I'm sure it was meant to be) but instead caused us to join forces. It's a pretty powerful and upset group of people, and rightfully so. Again, thank you for your support.
MHH101 February 01, 2013 at 09:27 PM
Home owners insurance will repair, then they can go after the contractor's insurance company to be reimbursed.
K. Kvaavik February 01, 2013 at 09:49 PM
MHH101 - No, homeowners insurance does actually NOT cover this unless you have a special "Blasting insurance" which I can assure you, nobody has. So, unfortunately that's not a route that we can go. However, even if we could, why would we use OUR insurance, pay a deductible, get our insurance premium raised, when we had nothing to do with it?
Karen Brewin February 01, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Why does the town not object to the blatant conflict of interest? The company that did the blasting, conducted the home inspections to determine if people's homes were damaged from their blasting???? Really?? Our home also sustained damage from this company's blasting. We were also told the damage was unrelated to the blasting. If an independent third party performed the inspections we certainly would be more inclined to accept their findings. If there is a lawsuit, we would like to be included. For whatever reason, we were not aware of Glover neighbors meeting(s) with the town.
K. Kvaavik February 02, 2013 at 01:35 AM
Karen - Please contact me at Kaarinak@comcast.net I can let you know what the plan is to proceed. Thanks. Kaarina
csp February 04, 2013 at 12:17 AM
I hope to see the "neighbors" successful in their pursuit to be properly compensated for any damage done during the blasting. The neighbors and parents in the Clifton area fought very hard to have this school built and it is a shame to have the work and the beauty of the school tarnished by this lack of professionalism. If the neighbors are not victorious in their fight to be compensated I strongly believe that this will deter the towns residents from ever voting for another similar project.

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