Attorney says air conditioner ruined historic home, files deceptive trade suit

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | May 8, 2008

David P. Salyer

GALVESTON – A local lawyer and his wife blame an air conditioning retailer and related entities for extensive damages to their 130-year-old historical home.

In a suit filed in Galveston County District Court May 1, attorney David P. Salyer and Jennifer K. Salyer accuse Richard and Jennifer Barto and Patrick Clayton, Clayton Air Conditioning, Clayton Air Conditioning LLP and Rheem Sales Company Inc. of manufacturing and installing an air conditioning and heating system the Salyers were told would "be more efficient and capable of cooling and heating the home more evenly, more adequately, and less expensively than the existing system," but failed to do so.

Plaintiff David P. Salyer is an attorney with McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel in Galveston, and the couple has hired the firm to represent them in the litigation.

The Salyers believe the defendants' practices may have violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protect Act.

The Salyers lament their residence, which was built in 1879, has withstood various natural calamities and many years of wear and tear, but "could not survive the air conditioning and heating system."

"The system has not only failed to perform as represented due to a multitude of reasons, including incorrect sizing and installation, but it also wreaked unmitigated damage to the house itself," contends the suit.

Because of the system, the suit adds, increased humidity and condensation occurred, subsequently causing the residence's foundation to shift and its original heart-of-pine floors to buckle and rot.

Meanwhile, the couple's utility bills rose to figures never before posted.

The suit also criticizes the defendants for ultimately failing to remedy the problem.

Last month, the Salyers hired an expert to review the system and installation and they say his inspection confirmed their worst fears.

"He concluded that the high humidity levels in the home were due to improper sizing of the first floor unit, that commercial grade equipment had been used for the downstairs zone with the improper use and installation of interior ducting underneath the home without a vapor barrier, and that sheet metal ducting connecting the exterior heating/cooling unit to the ducting had been compromised allowing moisture to enter the duct distribution system," explains the suit.

"He ultimately recommended removal and replacement of the entire unit with a properly sized one, changing out the ductwork with appropriate materials, and installing a separate dehumidification unit."

Overall, the Salyers claim negligence against the defendants and seek damages including but not limited to economic deficiency and mental anguish.

The case has been assigned to Judge John Ellisor, 122nd District Court.

Case No. 08CV0456

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