The six Sarah’s Trace homeowners suing the town, the school district and various construction-related companies have subpoenaed nine people so far in a lawsuit over the construction of Cole Middle School due to go to trial March 2.
Among those subpoenaed are Supt. Victor Mercurio, former Building Committee Chairman Jay Gowell, former School Committee Chairwoman Jean Ann Guliano, current School Committee member Mary Ellen Winters, and former committee members Bob Durant and Susan Records. Subpoenas were served between Jan. 20-29.
The homeowners say construction of the new Cole Middle School caused cracks in their walls and foundations, threatening the structural integrity of the houses.
Construction on the new school begin in fall 2009. Homeowners Chris and Sue Lamendola, at 50 Sarah’s Trace, and Tom Hogan and Cynthia Pelosi, 40 Sarah’s Trace, sought help from the town early on, after they said they noticed cracks in their homes. They went public with their complaints in November 2012, filing a police report to document to the damage.
At issue, according to the homeowners, were the vibrations caused by construction machinery. Seismic readings failed to show that the vibrations felt were sufficient to cause the kind of structural damage reported by the homeowners. The homeowners, meanwhile, questioned the validity and timing of the seismic readings.
The Lamendolas and Hogan/Pelosis filed their lawsuit in February 2011, with plaintiffs Keith and Wendy Amelotte, at 35 Sarah’s Trace, signing on a short time later.
Supt. Mercurio said he wasn’t surprised by the subpoena.
“I was assuming that the players that were involved would be asked,” he said. “It wasn’t something that I expected but I wasn’t necessarily surprised.”
Guliano, alternatively, said she was surprised, if only because she had not heard a trial date had been set. The date was announced in October.
“I was a little surprised…. We did the depositions back in 2012. So, it’s been a while,” she said.
Winters, who sat on the Building Committee along with Guliano, was more surprised that former member Susan Records was subpoenaed, since Records never sat on the Building Committee and she was never deposed.
Winters, Guliano, Durant and School Committeewoman Deidre Gifford were all on a list from the plaintiffs from 2012 to be deposed. Gifford was the only one of that group who was never deposed. Records was not on that list but was subpeonaed.
“That was strange to me,” said Winters.
It’s unclear why lawyer Matt Oliverio was subpoenaed since he would be shielded from testifying due to attorney-client privilege. Both Oliverio and David Maglio, lawyer for the homeowners, did not return phone calls.
The complete list of those subpoenaed as of Feb. 10:
Bob Durante – member of the School Committee from 2008-12
Jay Gowell – School Building Committee chairman from 2005 to 2012
Jean Ann Guliano – member of the School Committee from 2006 to 2010, chairwoman 2009 to 2010
Victor Mercurio – school superintendent from 2009 to present
Matthew Oliverio – lawyer for the district now and at the time of the Cole construction
Susan Records – member of the School Committee from 2008 to 2014
Michael Rongione – managing Engineer for Pare Corp., an engineering company hired by EGSD in 2010 to evaluate potential damage to Sarah’s Trace houses.
Christopher Whitney – lawyer specializing in construction law, hired by EGSD in 2010
Mary Ellen Winters – member of the School Committee from 2008 to present; member of the School Building Committee 2008 to present
And, if you like what you’re reading, consider supporting East Greenwich News by clicking here.