State Dept. of Consumer Protection rules concrete company not liable for foundation issues

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HARTFORD — The state Department of Consumer Protection has concluded that there is no evidence two companies that created concrete foundations for hundreds of Connecticut residents deliberately used the faulty concrete that has led to cracks.

Over 200 homeowners filed complaints with the state about failing foundations for homes mostly built in the ’80s and ’90s. Officials have traced the problem to concrete mix from a quarry in Willington that may contain high levels of pyrrhotite, a mineral believed to be a major factor in the crumbling foundations. The Joseph J. Mottes Company and the Becker Construction Company were the two that built the homes involved in the claim.

The DCP said in its report that as a result of this situation, the state should enact legislation to limit the use of pyrrhotite and pyrite in home foundation concrete, but that when the homes involved in the case were built not a lot was known about the danger of those materials. Without legislation, the state cannot easily pursue claims under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

You can read the full report here.

“The result is certainly disappointing for families who have made claims. At the same time, this result is not surprising given the framework of CUTPA, which requires that we prove a deceptive act or practice,” said DCP Commissioner Jonathan Harris.

The two companies previously, and voluntarily, agreed to stop selling materials or products containing aggregate from Becker’s Quarry in Willington for use in residential concrete foundations in Connecticut until June 2017 to give the Legislature a chance to enact statutes.

Meanwhile, despite the difficulty to file claims due to the lack of legislation, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said in June the state has reached a deal with a handful of insurance companies to finance a program meant to compensate affected homeowners.

Jepsen said just four of the 29 insurance companies working in impacted communities in Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties have so far agreed to take part. The Hartford, Travelers, Amica, and an unnamed company will form a pool from which victims can recoup some repair costs.

The deal for the insurance companies to help has a clause in it that absolves the insurance companies of coverage responsibility, but without claiming responsibility they’ve said they’re willing to be a part of a program to help homeowners.

A majority of those who filed claims have not yet agreed to participate in the program with the insurance company, which would dampen their ability to recuperate money through a claim of unfair business practices, but officials are still working to reach out to the homeowners.