PROVO — Two Santaquin families have sued a pair of legislator-homebuilders, claiming they sold shoddily constructed houses with major structural defects and committed fraud to cover up the problems.
The suit was filed Wednesday against Rep. Glenn Way, R-Spanish Fork, and Sen. Parley Hellewell, R-Orem.
"We are so sick of it, it is a joke," said homeowner Michelle Mendenhall. "It has major, major, major problems. We just want out of our house."
Mendenhall's family and the Brenden McEwan family, neighbors in their Santaquin subdivision, filed suit in 4th District Court seeking unspecified damages or a court-ordered builder buyback of the homes.
They said a site engineering firm had estimated each home would require $100,000 or more to repair and stabilize the soil and sinking foundations.
Named as defendants are Way, Hellewell, their limited liability company, Alpine Summit Homes, and the real-estate brokers involved in the sale.
Way, chief operator of Alpine Summit, said claims of six-figure repair estimates are "ridiculous. That's absolute garbage."
Hellewell said, "Our attorney says they don't have a leg to stand on. This stuff they're claiming is just not true."
Way suggested the families have attempted to apply pressure because of his elected position.
"People will look for any reason whatever to be dissatisfied with someone, especially if they're a legislator," he said.
But Mendenhall said any bullying was done by Way.
"Glenn is in the Legislature, and he knows how to manipulate people," she said. "He has threatened to sue people for slander and scared people into thinking he was going to file bankruptcy. Glenn threatened that all the time."
The lawsuit alleges that Alpine Summit Homes is insolvent and "is simply a shell to attempt to insulate Way and Hellewell from liability for the shoddy homes they built."
Hellewell and Way agree there is no money in the company, except when they infuse capital for a construction project.
Way claims he has little personal money and had to borrow funds from his grandmother to supplement the financing provided by Hellewell and partner Tom Felt.
Two years ago, Way filed personal bankruptcy, listing more than $65,000 in unsecured debt and $122,000 in collateralized loans.
Way was cited twice in the 1990s for contracting without a license. He since has rectified that problem and is the qualifier for the contracting license listed under the name of Alpine Summit Homes.