Beazer Suit Dismissal To Be Appealed


Written by: Stella M. Hopkins

Lawyers will appeal the dismissal of a Concord couple's lawsuit against Beazer Homes USA that alleges the homebuilder's lending practices led to foreclosures, which hurt property values.

A federal judge dismissed the case last week, saying it didn't directly connect Beazer's actions with property value losses for Lea and Mark Tingley. Foreclosures in their Southern Chase neighborhood could have resulted from factors such as job losses and a weaker economy, the judge wrote.

The Tingleys' lawyers say they want an opportunity to present evidence showing the link.

"To say there could have been other causes is not a sufficient cause to dismiss the case," said Gary Jackson, one of two Charlotte lawyers representing the couple. "These people deserve their day in court to show that the cause was indeed Beazer's actions."

Beazer hasn't responded to requests for comment on the dismissal or the decision to appeal.

The Tingleys' lawsuit followed an Observer investigation in March 2007 that found Atlanta-based Beazer had violated federal lending laws and arranged loans some buyers couldn't afford. The paper also found high rates of foreclosure in Charlotte-area Beazer projects, including Southern Chase. The Tingleys were among buyers interviewed.

The Observer report triggered ongoing federal investigations. The company has since said employees violated federal housing regulations, ended its mortgage business, and exited the Charlotte market.

The Tingley case, which sought class-action status, is one of at least four brought by Carolinas homeowners against Beazer following the Observer stories. A South Carolina case was dismissed. Two others are in process: one by a woman who lost her Southern Chase home to foreclosure; another by 10 buyers in a Charlotte subdivision.

Matthew Arnold, also representing the Tingleys, said they have 30 days to file in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.