A South Carolina company controlled by Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is the target of a more-than-$4.5 million lawsuit filed by one of the world’s largest building materials companies.
At the heart of the Charleston County complaint is a landlord-tenant dispute over a leaky roof.
Trump is involved because his only South Carolina-based business, D B Pace Acquisition LLC, owns the property in Stark Industrial Park where the leak allegedly destroyed millions of dollars worth of construction products owned by Saint-Gobain ADFORS America.
Trump acquired the North Charleston real estate earlier this year by foreclosing on a loan that son Donald Trump Jr. had personally guaranteed to finance a now-defunct business that owned the building.
Saint-Gobain’s lawsuit alleges the senior Trump’s firm and the previous property owners are successors-in-interest because they involved “the same people performing the same work as landlord for the same location related” to the same property.
Saint-Gobain has a North Charleston facility where it manufactures a “chopped fiber glass strand product” used as a moisture barrier in roofing shingles. But if the raw product gets wet, it “becomes unsalable and unmarketable” according to the legal claim.
According to Saint-Gobain’s lawsuit, here’s what happened:
In January 2013, Saint-Gobain agreed to rent most of the warehouse space at Titan Global Manufacturing (later Titan Atlas Manufacturing) at 4280 Pace St., which is off of Azalea Drive near Leeds Avenue. Trump Jr. was a Titan partner.
By April 2014, roof leaks had appeared, and were damaging Saint-Gobain’s product, according to the complaint. The company said it repeatedly notified agents of the landlord, including Trump Jr. and Michael Cohen, executive vice president of The Trump Organization and now special counsel to the Republican presidential candidate.
Despite assurances, the leaks were not repaired, according to the complaint. Instead, the “defendants, primarily by and through their agents and representatives Cohen and Trump Jr., were insistent that (Saint-Gobain) ADFORS must agree to extend the lease, or else the roof would never be repaired.”
Then, South Carolina was struck in October with a 1,000-year rainfall event, a weekend of heavy rain that caused flooding across a wide swath of the state.
Saint-Gobain said it suffered a “devastating loss of product” totaling $4.5 million, and subsequently “was left with no choice but to abandon its operations at the Pace Street warehouse and move those operations to another facility down the road.”
The company is seeking $4.5 million in actual damages, plus interest, and punitive damages.
Trump Jr. and Cohen did not respond to emailed requests for comment Tuesday.
Reach David Slade at 843-937-5552 or twitter.com/DSladeNews.