Homeowners fighting arbitration in D.R. Horton Homes litigation

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 7:41 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - There’s a ruling in favor of homeowners who are suing D.R. Horton homes for defective housing and air conditioning.

It means homeowners can continue to challenge being forced to enter into arbitration.

Arbitration is a way to resolve a dispute out of court. It’s usually quicker, cheaper, and kept private, so the public doesn’t hear about it.

Homeowners want their cases alleging defective houses and air conditioning to play out in court so that the public knows what happened.

Chaplain Christopher Trombatore said he quickly learned something was wrong with his house.

“It was a crisp day in Louisiana. The humidity rate may have been 40% outside. And we couldn’t get the humidity in the house below 75. We knew then there was something wrong with the HVAC system, it was actually pumping moisture into our home and wasn’t ventilating it in the attic,” Trombatore said.

He spent his own money to fix problems so he and his family could be comfortable.

Homeowners’ attorney Lance Unglesby said they are fighting the company’s move to resolve disputes in arbitration.

He said homeowners never consented to arbitration.

“Judge Johnson in the 19th Judicial District Court made a ruling that will allow us to continue to challenge the arbitration clause, which D.R. Horton deceptively had all of its customers sign. And the purpose of the challenge is to say these individuals did not consent to this contract. They were told the purpose of this contract was to hold their home as a deposit so they would have a right to a specific house,” Unglesby said.

The attorney for Horton, John A. Brown, said arbitration is far superior, fair, faster, and cheaper and more efficient.

However, Unglesby said residents want everything in open court.

“Arbitration is done in secret and it’s not good for the public. It has a silencing effect as a result of arbitration clauses, nobody really gets to the truth, and we believe everybody should have the right of access to the courthouse,” he said.

Horton attorney Brown said they dispute all the allegations including that the process was deceptive. He said the judge has allowed limited exchange of information before he will decide if arbitration will go forward.