Attorney disputes accusations against The Gardens
By Dawn Schuett
An attorney for The Gardens Manufactured Home Community in Rochester says the class-action lawsuit filed against the development is without merit, but the plaintiffs' attorney stands by claims made in the case.
Twenty-one residents of The Gardens, which is east of U.S. 63 along 40th Street Southeast, are named as plaintiffs in the suit filed Friday in Olmsted District Court. The complaint alleges consumer fraud, breach of contract and violations of state and local laws.
The defendants include The Gardens, Windmill Homes and other limited-liability corporations formed to handle ownership, lease spaces in the park and sell manufactured homes. Five local businessmen, former state Rep. Dave Bishop, Dick Hexum Sr., Tom Hexum, Lloyd Johnson and David Kane, share ownership in the corporations but are not named as defendants in the suit.
In a written statement issued Tuesday, the defendants' attorney, Bill Ryan, said the allegations and causes of action outlined in the complaint are without merit.
"The Gardens Manufactured Home Community LLC and Windmill Homes LLC will vigorously defend themselves against this action and are confident that they will prevail in this lawsuit," Ryan wrote.
Residents have said The Gardens owners failed to keep promises that The Gardens would be a private development with amenities that included recreational trails, neighborhood playgrounds, a private lake and 24-hour security. They also claim the owners did not follow proper building and construction practices, resulting in damage to several homes.
Ryan said the design of The Gardens and its land-use plan were reviewed and approved by the appropriate governmental authorities. Also, the installation of the residences was inspected and approved by authorities, he said.
"In addition, owners of The Gardens Manufactured Home Community LLC and Windmill Homes LLC have worked to ensure that The Gardens is one of the most well-maintained manufactured home communities in the state," according to the statement issued by Ryan.
Plaintiffs are seeking various forms of relief with the civil suit. Their attorney, Charlie Bird, of the law firm Bird and Jacobsen, said that when it comes to pursuing a case for tenants, it comes down to whether the evidence supports a justifiable claim.
"Here, we're convinced such a claim exists," Bird said. "If we weren't so convinced, we wouldn't have taken the case."