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05-01-06, 05:46 PM #1
Chicago's highest paid tv news personality pulls the race card and sues
Chicago's highest-paid television news personality claims a contractor who designed and helped build her $3 million Lincoln Park mansion skimped on luxuries and did shoddy work because she is black.
Diann Burns, top news anchor at WBBM-Channel 2, recently filed suit against Chicago-based Metzler/Hull Development Corp., demanding at least $600,000 on claims of fraud and discrimination.
She and her husband, talent agent Marc Watts, list 84 complaints about their 5,752-square-foot home on North Burling Street -- from the angle of the garage floor not being right to chipped mahogany doors being installed.
In the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, they also complain about the lack of a drip pan in one of three air conditioning units, stairs that are a quarter inch off and that have a piece of limestone jutting out awkwardly, and stairway lighting installed improperly, creating "an unsightly appearance" for such a prestigious home.
Company plans to countersue
There are also complaints that their garage was not sealed properly -- giving them fears of carbon monoxide poisoning -- and duct and wall work done so poorly that they have endured water damage.
The couple says Metzler/Hull cut corners, thinking a black couple wouldn't notice. The suit, however, does not say what leads Burns and Watts to believe that.
The company, through attorney Karen Layng, vehemently denies it did shoddy work or that it is racist, adding a countersuit is planned against Burns and Watts for their "violative and wrongful conduct."
The company "is extremely disappointed that Mr. Watts and Ms. Burns have refused to pay the full contract balance due to the contractor, including ordering extras they did not pay for," Layng said.
Metzler/Hull, known for its work on luxury homes, has had just one other contract complaint filed against it in Cook County in the last 10 years, according to court records, and it was dropped. Records also show the company has no pending state fraud or discrimination complaints, or complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
Burns could not be reached at her WBBM-Channel 2 office, but Watts said: "We're not in this for any publicity," and "we don't want to litigate anything in the media. We did what we did because we felt it was our only recourse."
The suit describes in detail the renovations for their six-bedroom, 41/2-bath home with a conservatory on the top level.
From budgeting $60,000 for windows and doors, $50,000 for the master bathroom and $40,000 each for stairs, interior trim and kitchen cabinets, the couple spared no expense. But plans submitted to the City of Chicago are vastly different from the home they moved into in 2002, the lawsuit says.
Burns made race an issue before
Although Metzler/Hull said it stands by its work, the couple says work was poorly done and the company "intended to take advantage" of them because they are black.
They accuse the company of seeing a black couple as being "gullible and inexperienced in construction matters," so it could "deceive and take advantage of and defraud" them.
The lawsuit marks the second time Burns has invoked race as an issue in a recent controversy. Burns, a fixture on local newscasts for more than two decades, was angered that after 18 years with WLS-Channel 7, the station took her off the air several months before her contract was set to expire in 2003. She and her husband vigorously worked the local black media, which reported calls for boycotts against Channel 7.
She made a highly publicized jump to Channel 2, where she reportedly makes more than $2 million a year as news anchor alongside Antonio Mora.
05-01-06, 05:52 PM #2FishTail Guest
So what they're saying is: they think blacks are gullible etc. and are imputing this stereotype onto the company. Be nice if they explained how they came to this conclusion.
The work wasn't up to scratch + I'm black = discrimination, isn't the first thing that comes to mind.
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