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CONTRACTOR WINS SUIT AGAINST HOMEOWNERS FOR LIBEL, DAMAGES.

Byline: Kevin F. Sherry Daily News Staff Writer

A Santa Barbara contractor has been awarded more than $6.6 million by an arbitrator who found that the company was put out of business by the actions of a Simi Valley homeowner's association.

Arbitrator Nicholas Toghia found that the Simi Valley Le Parc Homeowners Association had engaged in trade libel, slander, negligent lawsuits and interference with the business of QwikResponse.

The ruling, binding on both parties, was signed Friday.

The case stems from a repair job started by QwikResponse following the Northridge Earthquake.

The homeowners association cannot pay the judgment, said David R. Worley, an attorney for Le Parc.

``They don't have assets anywhere near that. They are currently in bankruptcy,'' Worley said. ``Obviously, my clients did disagree and still disagree with the claims that were made.''

The residents at the 264-unit condominium complex near First Street and the Ronald Reagan Freeway should receive their official notification about the award within the next several days, said Leslie Dattel, who has been the homeowners board president since July 1.

``We're still coming to terms with what we're going to do,'' Dattel said.

In September 1994, QwikResponse initiated a $6.2 million contract for the earthquake repairs.

The work included fixing cracked drywall, roofs, carpeting, tiles and stucco. It progressed until a new association board was elected in January 1995, said Glenn J. Campbell, the attorney for QwikResponse.

``Things really started to get hairy then,'' Campbell said.

The board attempted to remove QwikResponse from the project and to get a cheaper bid. The board tried to make additions, deletions and general changes to the project, Campbell said.

The board falsely accused the contractor of doing substandard work, hiring unlicensed subcontractors, diverting funds from the project and using substandard materials, Campbell said.

QwikResponse continued to pay its subcontractors as best it could, but the board withheld its payments. That caused QwikResponse to miss out on other quake-repair jobs and caused the company to become inactive, he said.

The next step will be for QwikResponse to ask a court to confirm the award.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 16, 1998
Words:348
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