After they moved into brand-new homes, two Canal Winchester couples discovered they were living inside magnets. Their TV screens were distorted. Cordless phones ran into interference. Computer hard drives were corrupted.
The culprit: steel joists that had become magnetized, perhaps during construction.
The Ohio Supreme Court is weighing whether the couples can sue the builder, Centex Homes, or if they gave up that right by signing sales contracts limiting what problems the homebuilder has to fix.
In 2004, both couples paid around $145,000 for new houses built by Centex in Canal Winchester. When they told Centex about the magnetized joists, Centex said that was not covered under the warranty included in their contracts.
By signing the contracts, the buyers agreed to waive claims for repairs except those specifically mentioned in a separate document, which was available for inspection at a separate place.
The couples sued in 2007. Both the Franklin County Common Pleas Court in 2009 and the 10th District Court of Appeals in 2010 ruled in Centex’s favor, citing the wording of the sales contract.
The couples’ attorney say a jury should hear the homeowners’ case.
But Centex’s attorney, Michael Long, urged justices to trust the free market. He said the contract still requires the builder to fix more than 100 other specified defects.
It remains unclear exactly how the joists became magnetized. Justices tried to find out yesterday with questions to the attorneys, but they did not learn much on that point.