South Dade: And Then There Were Lawsuits

It appears that Hurricane Andrew will leave a hail of lawsuits in its wake. On Sept. 2, homeowners in Kendall, Fla., filed a class action against Lennar Homes, charging it with building substandard housing. Lennar disputes the charges.

Now, other Dade County residents are coming forward with tales of poor construction and slipshod building inspections. Wen Chang, a retired engineering professor living in south Dade County, says Arvida, a developer formerly owned by Disney, secured roofs at its Country Walk development with nails instead of bolts, which would have better resisted Andrew's 140-mph winds. Arvida President Bud Miller says that the homes met Dade County building codes.

Manny Ramirez, a structural engineer in Coral Gables, says county building inspectors are "overloaded with work." Others say they may just be lazy. A 1990 county grand jury report described one inspector who claimed he had visited 18 sites in one day. "In reality," says the report, "he went to one site for 30 seconds after having spent 30 minutes eating breakfast and proceeded to spend the next hour at a bowling alley watching women bowl."

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