Plumbing as leaky as the Saints’ secondary. Electrical wiring as unreliable as the Saints’ pass rush.
A concrete foundation that sank almost as quickly as the Saints’ playoff hopes.
In hindsight, the Saints’ implosion on defense last year and what Rob Ryan says was his experience buying a home in New Orleans bear an uncanny resemblance to each other.
The defensive coordinator brought in by the Saints two seasons ago filed a lawsuit in Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Monday against just about everyone involved in building the Uptown home or selling it to him.
Ryan and his wife, Kristin, are looking for compensation for the mental anguish, embarrassment and other damages they claim were caused by what they refer to in the suit as “The Dream House turned Nightmare.”
The co-owner of the company that built the house denied all of Ryan’s allegations and accused him of “using the threat of this malicious suit” to try to resell a “magnificent, beautiful” house “at an enormous profit.”
The architect said the house “does not contain any structural defect or damage” and meets all code requirements.
The Ryans bought the $2.1 million house in May 2013, shortly after Ryan joined the team after being fired by the Dallas Cowboys. According to the suit, they were looking for New Orleans-style architecture without the headaches of a fixer-upper.
They thought they had found it in a newly built Greek Revival-style home in the 1100 block of Webster Street, on the campus that once housed LaSalle Elementary School and later the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.
The couple assumed it was “structurally sound and ready for occupancy” but soon concluded otherwise. Among the alleged problems outlined in the suit:
The plumbing leaked in places, causing water damage.
Improperly caulked windows failed to stop rain from getting into the house.
The back porch lacked railings, and “on at least one occasion, someone fell off.”
The electrical meter started charging them not just for their own use but also their neighbor’s, running up the monthly bill.
Some lighting fixtures and electrical outlets wouldn’t work.
The heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system was “not up to code,” and the city still won’t issue a certificate of occupancy because of various deficiencies.
On several occasions, the suit claims, workers came to do repairs, only to create more problems. For example, one bathroom emerged from renovations without cabinets, a sink, a mirror or baseboards.
Misaligned doors opened or closed on their own — or refused to do either.
The Ryans eventually hired an engineer who questioned “certain structural qualities of the house.” But LaSalle School LLC — which built and sold the house — and its architect dismissed that assessment as uninformed, the lawsuit says.
LaSalle then hired its own engineer, who discovered that the foundation was missing elements designed to keep the house from sinking into the ground, the suit says.
That means the house will continue settling, resulting in “further structural damage,” the suit says. The molding and sheetrock are already cracked, and the floors are sloped.
The suit says the Ryans decided to ask the court for damages because the home’s “numerous defects” have “caused, and certainly will continue to cause, them great inconvenience, aggravation, anguish and expense.”
In a written statement, LaSalle School LLC co-owner Jim MacPhaille denied Ryan’s allegations and said, “Rob Ryan bought a magnificent, beautiful home from us that is structurally sound. He tried to manipulate us into buying his house back at an enormous profit, using the threat of this malicious suit.”
MacPhaille also called it “unbelievable” that Ryan would hire Randy Smith to be his attorney in the case, given that Smith has been representing the estranged relatives of Saints owner Tom Benson in their lawsuit over Benson’s succession plans.
Smith said Ryan doesn’t know the Benson relatives and that the lawsuit has nothing to do with Ryan’s role with the Saints.
He also said, “It is true that the Ryans tried to get the builders to stand behind (the builders’) claims that the house is fine and take the house back and return the purchase price, but the builders refused to do so, forcing the Ryans to file suit.”
Meanwhile, David Boihem, of Southern Builders, said in a statement that his firm stands behind “its quality work” and that the home is covered by a warranty. “If and when Rob Ryan gives us notice for a specific repair, we stand ready, willing and able to make the repair,” Boihem said.
Hank Smith, of Harry Baker Smith Architects II, added, “Engineers have consistently and overwhelmingly determined that Rob Ryan’s home does not contain any structural defect or damage and meets all international residential code requirements relating to the design and construction.”
A fourth defendant named in Ryan’s suit, Beta Group Engineering & Construction Services, could not be reached for comment Monday.
This is not the first time a Saints coach has alleged misdeeds on the part of a contractor.
In 2009, head coach Sean Payton was the lead plaintiff in a federal class-action lawsuit against a Chinese drywall manufacturer accused of providing a product that corroded wiring in homes and made people in the region sick. The numerous parties involved eventually reached a settlement totaling hundreds of millions of dollars.