By BOB KOSLOW , Business Writer
DAYTONA BEACH -- Businesswomen Cheryl McIntire and Nancy Magliocchetti have big dreams of converting a 95-year-old Victorian-style landmark here into a grand showcase for weddings and other gala events.
But soon after renovations began in early 2007 at 216 First Ave., it came to a sudden stop.
Dreaded dry-wood termites have tunneled through wood floorboards, headers, support joists and wall studs. Low round piles of termite dung litter the floors, upstairs and down. Delicate, abandoned lace wings decorate other spots, even under a shiny copper painted cupola topping the master bedroom's bay windows.
The owners of Cher-Ancy Victorian Manor still want to fulfill their vision. They are suing Massey Services Inc. to repair the termite damage since the home had a termite-service contract that's been renewed annually since 1987. The complaint filed in December in Hillsborough County alleges breach of contract with damages in excess of $15,000.
"This is a huge impediment in their business plan," said the women's Tampa attorney, Pete Cardillo, who specializes in termite litigation. "We have not yet quantified the damage, but it is extensive."
Massey Services attorney Daniel Gerber in Orlando said he is familiar with Cardillo's work and is trying to figure out the facts.
Based on past cases, Cardillo anticipates Massey Services will cite contract disclaimers including the need to find live termites in the damaged area as proof the damage was caused after treatments and inspections.
"It's absurd to suggest the damage was pre-existing before 1987," Cardillo said. "Termites do not like to be seen. If exposed they dry up and die. The best you might do is see them scatter when you open up the wood. If they use that defense, we'll amend the suit to include the use of deceptive practices."
A New Jersey attorney built the house in 1915, but sold it a year later because his wife did not like Daytona Beach, McIntire said.
Area historian Harold Cardwell said the house has Queen Anne features and would be a significant contribution if a historical district was ever created within the old residential neighborhood that is somewhat run down...