LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — A win for homeowners suing D.R. Horton homes who said they were duped into signing arbitration clauses before moving into their defective homes.

Although some had signed the arbitration agreements, which means all issues will be settled outside the courts, a Baton Rouge judge recently ruled to allow homeowners to challenge the agreement in court.

Attorney Lance Unglesby says this means homeowners will be allowed to dispute in court, and not in private.

 “Arbitration is done in secret and D.R. Horton homes has gotten away with this for so long because of arbitration.  Light needs to be shined on it.  It needs to be in a court proceeding with a fair judge and a fair jury,” Unglesby stated.

He says his clients say the homebuilder tricked them into signing an arbitration clause.  

“They had no idea it pertained to an arbitration clause and it was designed that way.  They were under the understanding that the purpose of signing that document was to protect their rights to a certain house.  It was a deposit on a house,” Unglesby explained.

He says his team will begin to collect the evidence needed to get their clients’ day in court. 

Their claim is that D.R. Horton has built and sold homes with inadequate ventilation and HVAC systems which led to mold and structural problems.

“D.R. Horton takes the position that they are above the law and that under no certain circumstance even when a party doesn’t consent that they should be compelled to go to court and have a judicial judge in the state of Louisiana decide whether or not the contract is valid,” Unglesby added.

We reached out to D.R. Horton for their response, read it below:

D.R. Horton takes pride in the homes we sell.  We did not mislead our homebuyers, as the arbitration clause is prominently featured in our contracts, and the plaintiffs were required to separately initial that clause when they signed their contracts.  By asking that plaintiffs honor their agreements, we are not trying to stall the resolution of their claims; their refusal to honor the agreement to arbitrate is what is stalling the resolution of this case.    

Arbitration is strongly favored in Louisiana because it is typically faster and cheaper than court litigation that often can go on for years, and it is far more likely to deliver just and prompt results for all involved.

Also note that the district judge has not ruled on whether or not this case will go to arbitration.  He has only allowed the plaintiffs limited discovery on the issue.  D.R. Horton is asking the appellate court to review that ruling because it contends that all issues (including discovery) are reserved exclusively to the arbitrator.

D.R. Horton takes pride in the homes we sell and denies the plaintiffs’ claims. 

Jessica L. Hansen