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Attorneys drop troubled home builder Hansen & Horn

December 2, 2009

Indianapolis-based Hansen & Horn Group Inc. currently is without legal representation after attorneys defending the troubled home builder from a slew of lawsuits dropped it as a client.

Raymond Basile and Paul Carroll of Indianapolis-based Harrison & Moberly LLP notified Marion County courts of their decision on Monday.

The lawyers did not elaborate in court documents. But, in response to an IBJ inquiry, Carroll said via e-mail that “the reasons for the decision to withdraw are protected by the attorney-client privilege and cannot be disclosed by this firm.”

Steve Horn, Hansen & Horn Group’s chief operating officer, did not return phone calls Wednesday morning seeking comment.

Tom Bedsole, a residential construction and real estate lawyer at the local office of Cincinnati-based Frost Brown Todd LLC, said lawyers typically withdraw if they’re not getting paid.

“It is fairly unusual for attorneys to withdraw for other reasons,” he said.

The financially pressed Hansen & Horn is facing at least 14 lawsuits filed this year in Marion County courts, mostly by suppliers seeking to recover money they say the builder owes them. One would-be homeowner also has filed suit, alleging the company misused construction funds. All told, the suits seek to recover more than $1 million.

The decision by the lawyers to withdraw as counsel comes at a perilous time for Hansen & Horn.

Judge Heather A. Welch of Marion Superior Court 12 has been asked to appoint a receiver to take possession of the company. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Thursday morning.

The request by C&R Concrete Contractors follows a lawsuit brought by the Indianapolis company alleging Hansen & Horn owes it $268,749 for concrete work done in the past three years. 

And fellow Marion Superior Court Judge Timothy Oakes took the drastic step in mid-November of having Monroe Bank place a 90-day hold on a Hansen & Horn account after it failed to pay a $183,000 judgment in a suit brought by a supplier in June.

A hearing on that matter is set for Jan. 26.

Indianapolis-based Lee Supply Corp. sued the home builder after it failed to pay for materials and services, according to court documents. Hansen & Horn, meanwhile, attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed, a legal maneuver that Oakes rejected Nov. 3.

Founded in 1977, Hansen & Horn is building homes in more than 20 subdivisions in central Indiana, including Duke Realty Corp.’s mixed-use Anson development in Boone County near Whitestown. It replaced Los Angeles-based KB Home Inc., which backed out of plans to build in Anson when it exited the Indiana market in July 2007.

Hansen & Horn anticipates building 168 houses priced at $180,000 and above in a first phase. Additional phases could result in a total of 680 houses. Six homes have been built so far, with two more under construction.

Altogether, the home builder has been named in at least 20 lawsuits in Marion County in the past 10 years.

 

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