Questions loom about fallout following balcony collapse

A lawsuit claims before this condo balcony collapse, there was at least one previous deck failure but the homeowners' association and builder didn't inform those who live at the Falls at Hayden Run. (WSYX/WTTE)

Some homeowners in a northwest Columbus condo community attended an association meeting to get answers about their unsafe balconies, following the collapse of at least one deck that severely injured a father and daughter.

Roger Guess and his daughter Arlene were both out on one of the condo balconies along Mesa Falls Street when it gave way, shattering Roger’s legs and fracturing Arlene’s pelvis, hip and several vertebrae.

A lawsuit was filed two weeks ago against Lifestyle Communities and The Falls at Hayden Run Condominium Association for negligence.

The association held a board meeting at the clubhouse Wednesday night. ABC 6 On Your Side showed up, but was told the meeting was only open to homeowners who live there.

“Can we sit in on your meeting?” Investigator Brooks Jarosz asked.

“No you can’t. It has to be for homeowners only,” association president Kurt Barnhart said.

“Why’s that?” Jarosz responded.

“It’s an association meeting and only paying homeowners can come,” Barnhart explained.

“Is there a reason no one has responded to our inquiries?” Jarosz asked.

Barnhart said, “Can’t comment.”

Those who attended told ABC 6/FOX 28 the group did not formally notify homeowners and explained meetings are announced by word of mouth.

The collapsed balcony is still sitting on top of the Guess family’s SUV. The lawsuit said the deck was only held up by 16 nails measuring 2.5 inches and only sinking into the framing roughly a half inch.

Additionally, the lawsuit said there was at least one previous collapse that the association and Lifestyle Communities knew about, but never informed other homeowners and never made the necessary repairs to prevent another collapse.

After the Guess’ were hurt, the City of Columbus building department assessed all of the balconies in the condo community. It determined more than 150 balconies were potentially dangerous. Officials said Lifestyle Communities and the homeowners’ association hired an engineer to take a look at all of the decks.

Lifestyle Communities and the homeowners’ association have never responded to ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates, despite repeat calls and emails.

“Is it true you guys knew about a previous collapse but didn’t inform homeowners?” Jarosz asked Barnhart.

“I can’t comment,” Barnhart responded.

“Why can’t you comment?” Jarosz said back.

“It’s just the message I’ve been given,” he said.

“Right, but this happened in your community,” Jarosz said. “People are concerned. They want answers.”

Homeowners who attended the meeting said they got no new information about what’s happening with the balconies.

Lawyers for the Guess’ are discussing the possibility of a class-action lawsuit. There’s another meeting with homeowners that was scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday.

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