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Jury Awards $9.9 Million to Landfill Home Buyers

From United Press International

A jury decided today that 164 owners of sinking and cracked condominiums built on a former landfill in a city-sponsored project in Monterey Hills should be awarded $9.9 million in damages from those involved in its construction.

Among the defendants named in a suit filed by the Eaton Crest homeowners are the City of Los Angeles, its Community Redevelopment Agency, developer Carley Capital Corp. and other construction, grading and consulting firms.

A second trial is scheduled in August to determine what caused the disaster, who was responsible and how much each defendant should pay.

The Superior Court jury of 10 men and two women deliberated 5 1/2 days after a nine-month trial, reaching a verdict late Tuesday, which was sealed until it was announced this morning before Judge Eli Chernow.

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The jury decided that the fair market value of the homes fell from $18.4 million to $8.4 million after they were damaged. The panel estimated the cost of repairs at $8.5 million but decided that even after repairs, the market value of the homes would be diminished by $3.1 million.

As a result, the homeowners should be awarded $9.9 million, said Joel Castro, one of the attorneys for the homeowners.

“It means the homeowners can finally get the equity out of their homes,” Castro said. “They won’t have to stay on the hill anymore.”

The 1,611-unit community, built in the mid-1970s on 211 acres of land, was envisioned by the city as a way of offering affordable housing to first-time home buyers who would be just 5 miles northeast of downtown.

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