Construction Defect News You May Have Missed

The New Promises of Construction Equipment Telematics

June 15, 2017
Clive Winward - Construction Informer

There are some big shifts taking place in the field of construction equipment telematics. Starting with the integration of telematics devices in vehicles right from the manufacturers, to the standardization and integration of telematics data across various business functions, the future of telematics has never seemed so full of potential for fleet based businesses. Perhaps more than any other industry, the construction industry is set to reap the benefits of the seismic shift taking place in construction equipment telematics.


The California Legislature Passes SB 496 Limiting Design Professional Defense and Indemnity Obligations

June 15, 2017
Mark Himmelstein & Jenny Guzman – Newmeyer & Dillion LLP

Since 2008 when the California legislature limited subcontractor indemnity obligations, the design professional community has been shouting “what about us?” Well, the legislature finally responded and a new law that limits design professional’s defense and indemnity obligations to their percentage of fault goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

THE NEW LAW – SB 496
SB 496 amends California Civil Code section 2782.8 and states that indemnity agreements must be limited to the negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct of the indemnitee (i.e. no more Type I indemnity with design professionals). The amendment also provides that “in no event shall the cost to defend charged to the design professional exceed the design professional’s proportionate percentage of fault”, with a limited opportunity for reallocation in the event another defendant is judgment proof.
However, the duty to defend still remains and still arises at the time of the tender of the defense (both issues that were unsuccessfully targeted by the design professional lobbyists).

WHAT CAN BE DONE NOW?
Developers and Owners should strongly consider reviewing and revising the indemnity provisions in their consultant contracts to comply with the new legislation before the first of the year. This includes master agreements because project addenda entered into after January 1 are subject to the new law. The statute does not apply to current contracts, so these do not need to be amended.

Questions? Newmeyer & Dillion is happy to assist in navigating the process to ensure you are compliant prior to January’s deadline. Please let us know how we can help.

Mark Himmelstein is a partner focused in the areas of construction, real estate, business and insurance litigation. He has an in-depth experience in drafting and negotiating construction and real estate contracts. You can reach him at mark.himmelstein@ndlf.com.

Jenny Guzman is a litigation associate in the Newport Beach office, focusing her practice in the areas of business and real estate litigation and transactions. You can reach her at jenny.guzman@ndlf.com.

About Newmeyer & Dillion
For more than 30 years, Newmeyer & Dillion has delivered creative and outstanding legal solutions and trial results for a wide array of clients. With over 70 attorneys practicing in all aspects of business, employment, real estate, construction and insurance law, Newmeyer & Dillion delivers legal services tailored to meet each client’s needs. Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, with offices in Walnut Creek, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, Newmeyer & Dillion attorneys are recognized by The Best Lawyers in America©, and Super Lawyers as top tier and some of the best lawyers in California, and have been given Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review's AV Preeminent® highest rating. For additional information, call 949-854-7000 or visit http://newmeyeranddillion.com/


Venue for Suing Public Payment Bond

June 15, 2017
David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

Public payment bonds (excluding FDOT payment bonds) are governed under Florida statute s. 255.05. As it pertains to venue—the location to sue a public payment bond–the statute provides in relevant portion:

(5) In addition to the provisions of chapter 47, any action authorized under this section may be brought in the county in which the public building or public work is being construction or repaired.
***
(1)(e) Any provision in a payment bond…which restricts venue of any proceeding relating to such bond…is unenforceable.

Now, what happens if a subcontractor sues only a payment bond but its subcontract with the general contractor contains a mandatory venue provision? For example, what if the general contractor is located in Lee County and the subcontract contains a venue provision for Lee County, the project is located in Collier County, the subcontractor is located in Miami-Dade County, and the surety issues bonds in Miami-Dade County? Does venue have to be in Lee County per the mandatory venue provision?

Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at Dadelstein@gmail.com


The Death of Retail and Legal Issues

June 15, 2017
Wally Zimolong - Supplemental Conditions

The National Review recently published an article about the wide ranging economic and social impacts of the death of traditional mid-market shopping malls. The article is not overtly political and at time waxes nostalgic about the prototypical 1980’s shopping mall. However, the article highlights real problems facing the owners of these malls and other traditional shopping centers.

As expected, the economic issues have spurred legal and litigation issues for landlords. One of the issues I have been dealing with is what are a big box tenant’s obligations after a lease expires. Many of the big box tenants that are now vacating malls and shopping centers have been long term tenants. Sometimes, their leases go back decades. In the meantime, the mall may have changed hands. The original lease signed with a second or third removed owner and no doubt amended several times might be long forgotten.

Mr. Zimolong may be contacted at wally@zimolonglaw.com


Insurance Company Not Responsible For Paying Pre-Tender Legal Fees

June 5, 2017
Robert H. de Flesco III, Esq. - Florida Construction Law News

Insurance carriers can breathe a little easier. The Eleventh Circuit recently ruled, in EmbroidMe.com, Inc. v. Travelers Property & Casualty Co. of America, that an insurer did not have to pay attorneys’ fees incurred by its insured before the insured notified it of the litigation.[1]

Mr. de Flesco may be contacted at robert.deflesco@csklegal.com


Repair Cost Exceeding Actual Cash Value Does Not Establish “Total Loss” Under Fire Insurance Policy

June 5, 2017
Christopher Kendrick & Valerie A. Moore – Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP

In California FAIR Plan Assn. v. Garnes (No. A143190, filed 5/26/17), a California appeals court ruled that “total loss” under Insurance Code section 2051 refers to physical damage or loss, not the economic fact that the cost of repair exceeds the actual cash value of a home. Thus, where the home is not physically destroyed, the insured is entitled to the actual cost of repair, minus depreciation, even if that amount exceeds the fair market value of the home.

In Garnes, the insured had a fire policy issued by the California FAIR Plan with limits of $425,000. It was agreed that the assessed value of the insured home was only $75,000. The insured suffered a kitchen fire with estimated repair costs of $320,000. The FAIR Plan declared the home a total loss because the cost of repair exceeded the home’s value, and offered to pay the actual cash value as provided by Insurance Code section 2051(b)(1).

Reprinted courtesy of Christopher Kendrick, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP and Valerie A. Moore, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP
Mr. Kendrick may be contacted at ckendrick@hbblaw.com
Ms. Moore may be contacted at vmoore@hbblaw.com


California Governor Signs SB 496 Amending California’s Anti-Indemnity Statute

June 5, 2017
William S. Bennett - Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C.

The bill amends Cal. Civ. Code § 2782.8 as it applies to indemnity agreements with design professionals. The pre-existing § 2782.8 prohibited public agencies from requiring indemnity from design professionals for anything other than claims arising out of, pertaining to, or relating to the negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct of the design professional.

Under the newly passed bill, the indemnity restrictions imposed on public agencies when contracting with design professionals will now apply to all parties contracting with design professionals for professional services (effective Jan. 1, 2018). These restrictions also apply to a party contractually imposing a defense obligation on the design professional.

The revised statute specifically identifies architects, landscape architects, professional engineers, and professional land surveyors as included within the meaning of “design professional,” however it is unclear whether that is the extent of the phrase’s meaning.

Mr. Bennett may be contacted at wsb@sdvlaw.com


Colorado Construction Defect Action Reform: HB 17-1279 Approved by Colorado Legislature; Governor’s Approval Imminent

June 5, 2017
Erik G. Nielsen - Snell & Wilmer Legal Alert

Colorado developers frequently cite Colorado’s Construction Defect Action Reform Act (CDARA) as an obstacle to building new condominiums in the state. Developers contend that the law makes it too easy for condo boards to sue developers for workmanship issues, however trivial. As a result, Colorado has seen significant growth in the development of rental apartments, while development of new, for-sale, multi-unit housing, has declined in the state. In 10 years, new condo development in Colorado dropped from 20 percent to just 3 percent of total new-housing starts. Recognizing this issue, Governor Hickenlooper and the Colorado Legislature have taken an interest in reforming CDARA by, among other things, making it more difficult for condo boards and associations to sue construction professionals. Well on its way to becoming law, HB 17-1279 does exactly that.

After the enactment of HB 17-1279, the executive boards of homeowners’ associations (HOA) in common interest communities will have to satisfy three broad elements before bringing suit against a construction professional on behalf of the community’s individual unit owners.

Mr. Nielsen may be contacted at egnielsen@swlaw.com


24th Annual West Coast Casualty Construction Defect Seminar A Success

June 5, 2017
Margaret Graham - CDJ STAFF

The 24th Annual West Coast Casualty Construction Defect seminar was once again, a huge success . On May 18-19, 2017 attendees from the legal, insurance, builder, contractor, subcontractor and numerous other industries came from across the United States and several foreign countries to the 24th Annual West Coast Casualty Construction Defect Seminar.

Caryn Siebert, Vice President and Chief Claims Officer of The Knight Insurance Group was awarded The Jerrold S. Oliver Award of Excellence. This award recognizes a person who has contributed to the betterment of the construction defect community. For more information on the Oliver Award of Excellence, please visit: http://www.westcoastcasualty.com/seminar/ollie-award-voting/

Bert L. Howe & Associates, Inc.’s golf challenge raised $2,225.00 for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and $1,900 for Final Salute.

The grand total for all charitable contributions raised this year at the seminar was $45,300.00.

For more information on the National Coalition for Homeless Vets, please visit: http://nchv.org/

To learn more about how Final Salute provides homeless women Veterans with safe and suitable housing, please visit: http://www.finalsaluteinc.org/


President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order and the Construction Industry

June 5, 2017
Garret Murai - California Construction Law Blog

On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order No. 13788 implementing his “Buy American, Hire American” campaign promise.

Federal construction contractors familiar with “Buy American” clauses in federal contracts under the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)–which require materials to be manufactured in the United States (or, depending on the clause, not manufactured in certain countries) unless a waiver is obtained–have waited anxiously to see what Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” promise would mean for them.

Well . . . as it turns out, not much, at least not yet.

Mr. Murai may be contacted at gmurai@wendel.com


Construction Begins on Four Seasons Residence in Los Angeles

June 5, 2017
Greg Aragon - Engineering News-Record

Genton Property Group (GPG) announced May 30 that construction on the Four Seasons Private Residences Los Angeles is underway this week after finalization and funding of a $239 million construction loan last week.

ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com


$24 Million Verdict Against Material Supplier Overturned Where Plaintiff Failed To Prove Supplier’s Negligence Or Breach Of Contract Caused A SB800 Violation

June 5, 2017
Jon A. Turigliatto & Chelsea L. Zwart - CGDRB News & Publications

The Fourth District California Court of Appeal published its decision, Acqua Vista Homeowners Assoc. v. MWI, Inc. (2017) 7 Cal.App.5th 1129, holding that claims against a material supplier under SB800 (Civil Code §895, et. seq.) require proof that the SB800 violation was caused by the supplier’s negligence or breach of contract.

In this case, Acqua Vista Homeowners Association (“the HOA”) sued MWI, a supplier of Chinese pipe used in the construction of the Acqua Vista condominium development. The HOA’s complaint asserted a single cause of action for violation of SB800 standards, and alleged that defective cast iron pipe was used throughout the building. At trial, the HOA presented evidence that the pipes supplied by MWI contained manufacturing defects, that they leaked, and that the leaks had caused damage to various parts of the condominium development. The jury returned a special verdict against MWI, and the trial court entered a judgment against MWI in the amount of $23,955,796.28, reflecting the jury’s finding that MWI was 92% responsible for the HOA’s damages.

MWI filed a motion for a directed verdict prior to the jury’s verdict and motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict following the entry of judgment, both on the grounds that the HOA had failed to present any evidence that MWI had caused a SB800 violation as a result of its negligence or breach of contract, and had therefore failed to prove negligence and causation as required by SB800. MWI relied on the Fourth District’s prior decision in Greystone Homes, Inc. v. Midtec, Inc. (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 1194, and its interpretation therein of Civil Code §936, which states, in relevant part, that the statute applies “to general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, individual product manufacturers, and design professionals to the extent that the general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, individual product manufacturers, and design professionals caused, in whole or in part, a violation of a particular standard as the result of a negligent act or omission or a breach of contract….” (emphasis added.) However, the trial court denied both motions, relying on the last sentence of Civil Code §936, which states in part, “[T]he negligence standard in this section does not apply to any…material supplier…with respect to claims for which strict liability would apply.”

Reprinted courtesy of Jon A. Turigliatto, Chapman Glucksman Dean Roeb & Barger and Chelsea L. Zwart, Chapman Glucksman Dean Roeb & Barger
Mr. Turigliatto may be contacted at jturigliatto@cgdrblaw.com
Ms. Zwart may be contacted at czwart@cgdrblaw.com


HalfMoon Seminar: Construction Contract Workshop

June 5, 2017
Beverley BevenFlorez-CDJ STAFF

This one-day seminar by HalfMoon Education Inc., will go over Understanding Construction Contract Essentials, Reviewing Bidding Documents, Reviewing Project Documents, Understanding Issues in Contract Administration, Examining Legal Issues and Contract Disputes, and Handling Ethical Issues in Construction Contracting. Attorneys from Bernstein Shur will be speaking at the event, including Michael Bosse, George Burns, Asha Echeverria, Meredith Eilers, and Conor Shankman.

June 8, 2017
Doubletree by Hilton
363 Maine Mall Road
Portland, ME 04106


Court Denies Insurers' Motions for Summary Judgment Under All Risk Policies

June 5, 2017
Tred R. Eyerly - Insurance Law Hawaii

The federal district court found that the insurers could not escape coverage by summary judgment under their all risk policies. Eagle Harbour Condo Assoc'n v. Allstate Ins. Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54761 (W.D. Wash. April 10, 2017).

Eagle Harbour Condominium Association sued several of its insurers who denied coverage for hidden water damage. Various insurers provided coverage from 1988 to 2015.

The Association asserted that wind-driven rain and inadequate construction allowed water to penetrate the buildings' sheathing and framing, causing decades of deterioration and decay, until the damage was exposed to view in August 2014. The insurers claimed that the loss resulted from poor decisions in constructing and inadequately maintaining a stucco building in the wet and windy Pacific Northwest. The Association argued that the policies did not explicitly exclude damage caused by wind-driven rain, so there was coverage.

Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at te@hawaiilawyer.com


Construction Adds 11,000 Jobs in May

June 5, 2017
Tom Ichniowski - Engineering News-Record

The construction industry added 11,000 jobs during May and its unemployment rate improved from April’s level but it was slightly worse than the year-earlier figure, the Labor Dept. has reported.

Mr. Ichniowski may be contacted at ichniowskit@enr.com


Checking the Status of your Contractor License During Contract Work is a Necessity: The Expanded “Substantial Compliance” under B&P 7031 is Here

June 5, 2017
Ivo G. Daniele – Newmeyer & Dillion LLP News Alert

It is paramount that a contractor diligently maintains its license prior to and during the performance of any contract work. Failure to do so could result in barring a contractor from receiving payment and/or disgorgement of profits received under the construction contract.

California Business and Professions Code section 7031 is part of the Contractors State License Law (Business & Prof. section 700 et seq.), and is both feared and loathed by all contractors performing work in the state of California. This draconian statute is known as the “Shield” and was enacted over 70 years ago for the singular purpose to bar all actions by contractors seeking compensation for unlicensed contract work – even precluding a contractor from enforcing his or her mechanic’s lien rights. However, a contractor could potentially avoid the harshness of B&P 7031 by establishing that he or she had substantially complied with the appropriate licensing requirements.

SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH LICENSE REQUIREMENTS PRIOR TO 2017 AMENDMENT
The substantial compliance exception is found in section B&P 7031(e), which authorizes the court to determine that there has been substantial compliance with licensure requirements, if the contractor has shown at an evidentiary hearing that he or she engaged in the unlicensed work had:

  1. Been duly licensed as a contractor in this state prior to the performance of the act or contract;
  2. Acted reasonably and in good faith to maintain the license;
  3. Did not know or reasonably should not have known that he or she was not licensed when he or she performed the work; and
  4. Acted promptly and in good faith to reinstate the license once it learned the license had lapsed.

Although not impossible, satisfying all four requirements of the exception was challenging for the contractor, specifically, requirement # (3) – the lack of knowledge that he or she was unlicensed during performance of work.

SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE POST 2017
Fortunately, Governor Brown heard the collective cry for relief and signed Assembly Bill 1793 (“AB 1793”) into law. The new bill revises the criteria for the court to determine if a contractor is in substantial compliance with the licensing requirements by deleting requirement # (3) in its entirety and modestly amending requirement # (4) to require the contractor to act promptly and in good faith to remedy the failure to comply with the licensure requirements upon learning of the failure.

As a result, the substantial compliance exception under B&P 7031(e) reads as follows:

(e) The judicial doctrine of substantial compliance shall not apply under this section where the person who engaged in the business or acted in the capacity of a contractor has never been a duly licensed contractor in this state. However, notwithstanding subdivision (b) of Section 143, the court may determine that there has been substantial compliance with licensure requirements under this section if it is shown at an evidentiary hearing that the person who engaged in the business or acted in the capacity of a contractor (1) had been duly licensed as a contractor in this state prior to the performance of the act or contract, (2) acted reasonably and in good faith to maintain proper licensure, and (3) acted promptly and in good faith to remedy the failure to comply with the licensure requirements upon learning of the failure.

This new legislation has tempered the burden of proof born by the contractor in establishing substantial compliance, although be it minor in its modification, the fact of the matter remains the same – be diligent in maintaining your license during all phases of contract work.

Ivo Daniele is a seasoned associate in the Walnut Creek office focusing his practice on commercial transactions and business and construction litigation. For questions regarding California Business and Professions Code section 7031, please feel free to contact Ivo Daniele at (925) 988-3222 or ivo.daniele@ndlf.com.

About Newmeyer & Dillion
For more than 30 years, Newmeyer & Dillion has delivered creative and outstanding legal solutions and trial results for a wide array of clients. With over 70 attorneys practicing in all aspects of business, employment, real estate, construction and insurance law, Newmeyer & Dillion delivers legal services tailored to meet each client’s needs. Headquartered in Newport Beach, California, with offices in Walnut Creek, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, Newmeyer & Dillion attorneys are recognized by The Best Lawyers in America©, and Super Lawyers as top tier and some of the best lawyers in California, and have been given Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review's AV Preeminent® highest rating. For additional information, call 949-854-7000 or visit www.ndlf.com.


UPDATE - McMillin Albany LLC v. Superior Court

June 5, 2017
Richard H. Glucksman, Glenn T. Barger, & David A. Napper - CGDRB News & Publications

The matter has been fully briefed since last year and the construction industry anxiously awaits the California Supreme Court's highly anticipated decision regarding McMillin Albany LLC v. Superior Court (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 1132. Numerous amicus briefs have also been filed including one by the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, with the immediate past president of the organization, CGDRB's Glenn T. Barger, Esq., listed as the attorney of record. The Supreme Court will consider the issue of whether the Right to Repair Act (SB800) is the exclusive remedy for all defect claims arising out of new residential construction sold on or after January 1, 2003, thereby resolving the split of authority presented by the Fifth Appellate District's holding in McMillin Albany, which outright rejected the Fourth Appellate District's holding in Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Brookfield Crystal Cove LLC (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 98, on this particular issue. Oral argument is still pending and CGDRB will continue to closely monitor the progress of this case. Stay tuned.

Reprinted courtesy of Chapman Glucksman Dean Roeb & Barger attorneys Richard H. Glucksman, Glenn T. Barger and David A. Napper
Mr. Glucksman may be contacted at rglucksman@cgdrblaw.com
Mr. Barger may be contacted at gbarger@cgdrblaw.com
Mr. Napper may be contacted at dnapper@cgdrblaw.com


Gillotti v. Stewart (2017) 2017 WL 1488711 Rejects Liberty Mutual, Holding Once Again that the Right to Repair Act is the Exclusive Remedy for Construction Defect Claims

June 5, 2017
Richard H. Glucksman, Esq. & Chelsea L. Zwart, Esq. - Chapman Glucksman Dean Roeb & Barger Bulletin

Background
In Gillotti v. Stewart (April 26, 2017) 2017 WL 1488711, which was ordered to be published on May 18, 2017, the defendant grading subcontractor added soil over tree roots to level the driveway on the plaintiff homeowner’s sloped lot. The homeowner sued the grading subcontractor under the California Right to Repair Act (Civil Code §§ 895, et seq.) claiming that the subcontractor’s work damaged the trees.

After the jury found the subcontractor was not negligent, the trial court entered judgment in favor of the subcontractor. The homeowner appealed, arguing that the trial court improperly construed the Right to Repair Act as barring a common law negligence theory against the subcontractor and erred in failing to follow Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Brookfield Crystal Cove LLC (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 98. The Third District Court of Appeal disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of the subcontractor.

Impact
This is the second time the Third District Court of Appeal has held that Liberty Mutual (discussed below) was wrongly decided and held that the Right to Repair Act is the exclusive remedy for construction defect claims. The decision follows its holding in Elliott Homes, Inc. v. Superior Court (Hicks) (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 333, in which the Court of Appeal held that the Right to Repair Act’s pre-litigation procedures apply when homeowners plead construction defect claims based on common law causes of action, as opposed to violations of the building standards set forth in the Right to Repair Act. Elliott is currently on hold at the California Supreme Court, pending the decision in McMillin Albany, LLC v. Superior Court (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 1132, wherein Liberty Mutual was rejected for the first time by the Fifth District. CGDRB continues to follow developments regarding the much anticipated McMillin decision closely, as well as all related matters.

Discussion
The Right to Repair Act makes contractors and subcontractors not involved in home sales liable for construction defects only if the homeowner proves they negligently cause the violation in whole or part (Civil Code §§ 911(b), 936). As such, the trial court in Gillotti instructed the jury on negligence with respect to the grading subcontractor. The jury found that while the construction did violate some of the Right to Repair’s building standards alleged by the homeowner, the subcontractor was not negligent in anyway. After the jury verdict, the trial court found in favor of the grading subcontractor.

The homeowner moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a new trial on the grounds that the trial court improperly barred a common law negligence theory against the grading subcontractor. The trial court denied the motions on the grounds that “[t]he Right to Repair Act specifically provides that no other causes of action are allowed. See Civil Code § 943.” The trial court specifically noted that its decision conflicted with Liberty Mutual, in which the Fourth District Court of Appeal held that the Right to Repair Act does not eliminate common law rights and remedies where actual damage has occurred, stating that Liberty Mutual was wrongly decided and that the Liberty Mutual court was naïve in its assumptions regarding the legislative history of the Right to Repair Act.

In Gillotti, the Third District Court of Appeal stated that the Liberty Mutual court failed to analyze the language of Civil Code § 896, which “clearly and unequivocally expresses the legislative intent that the Act apply to all action seeking recovery of damages arising out of, or related to deficiencies in, residential construction, except as specifically set forth in the Act. The Act does not specifically except actions arising from actual damages. To the contrary, it authorizes recovery of damages, e.g., for ‘the reasonable cost of repairing and rectifying any damages resulting from the failure of the home to meet the standards....’ ([Civil Code] § 944).”

The Court also disagreed with Liberty Mutual’s view that because Civil Code §§ 931 and 943 acknowledge exceptions to the Right to Repair Act’s statutory remedies, the Act does not preclude common law claims for damages due to defects identified in the Act. The Court stated: “Neither list of exceptions, in section 943 or in section 931, includes common law causes of action such as negligence. If the Legislature had intended to make such a wide-ranging exception to the restrictive language of the first sentence of section 943, we would have expected it to do so expressly.”

Additionally, the Court of Appeal rejected the argument that Civil Code § 897 preserves a common law negligence claims for violation of standards not listed in Civil Code § 986. It explained that the section of Civil Code § 897, which provides, “The standards set forth in this chapter are intended to address every function or component of a structure,” expresses the legislative intent that the Right to Repair Act be all-encompassing. Anything inadvertently omitted is actionable under the Act if it causes damage. Any exceptions to the Act are made expressly through Civil Code §§ 931 and 934. The Court concluded in no uncertain terms that the Right to Repair Act precludes common law claims in cases for damages covered by the Act.

The homeowner further argued that she was not precluded from bringing a common law claim because a tree is not a “structure,” and therefore the alleged tree damage did not fall within the realm of the Right to Repair. The Court of Appeal also rejected this argument, holding that while the tree damage itself was not expressly covered, the act of adding soil to make the driveway level (which caused the damage) implicated the standards covered by the Right to Repair Act. The Court explained that since under the Act a “structure” includes “improvement located upon a lot or within a common area” (Civil Code § 895(a)), as the driveway was an improvement upon the lot, the claim was within the purview of the Right to Repair Act. As the soil, a component of the driveway, caused damage (to the trees), it was actionable under the Act.

Reprinted courtesy of Richard H. Glucksman, Chapman Glucksman Dean Roeb & Barger and Chelsea L. Zwart, Chapman Glucksman Dean Roeb & Barger
Mr. Glucksman may be contacted at rglucksman@cgdrblaw.com
Ms. Zwart may be contacted at czwart@cgdrblaw.com


Colorado Passes Construction Defect Reform Bill

June 5, 2017
David Suggs – Bert L. Howe & Associates, Inc.

According to Daniel E. Evans of Gordon & Rees Scully Mansukhani, Colorado’s state legislature recently passed a bill “designed to reduce litigation risk associated with building condos by requiring a majority of actual condo unit owners, as opposed to a majority of the HOA board members, to approve the filing of a lawsuit over construction defects.” Evans stated that this “legislation cannot be viewed as sweeping reform” and that “future legislative sessions will undoubtedly see additional efforts to reform construction defect litigation.”

Perhaps the most significant aspect of HB 1279 is the requirement for a majority of condo owners in a development to approve a lawsuit, Evans reported. Furthermore, HB 1279 “requires the HOA board to notify all condo unit owners and builders about plans to pursue a construction lawsuit. It further requires the HOA board to hold a meeting to allow the board and the developer to present facts and arguments to the individual condo unit owners, including arguments of the potential benefits and detriments of filing a lawsuit.”

Unlike its failed predecessors, HB 1279 does not require arbitration.


A New AAA Study Confirms that Arbitration is Faster to Resolution Than Court – And the Difference Can be Assessed Monetarily

June 5, 2017
John P. Ahlers - Ahlers & Cressman PLLC

There has been a perception among some litigators that arbitration is more expensive than court due to several factors. Among them:

  • The “upfront” costs are higher in that filing fees for arbitration exceed those in court. Arbitrators are paid, whether hourly or a flat rate, and the three arbitration panels can become very expensive.
  • Some arbitration clauses preserve statutory discovery rights, basically defeating the advantage of a simplified arbitration process. Discovery wars are extremely expensive. Depositions are the most costly of discovery, and in arbitration, as opposed to court, depositions are limited or do not exist.
  • Some arbitration clauses integrate the statutory rules of civil procedure, making arbitration almost equivalent to litigation. These types of clauses do the parties no favors.

These notions are all dispelled in a recent American Arbitration Association (AAA) study comparing the length of time in court, based on published federal court statistics, to the length of time in arbitration, based on data from the AAA. The study demonstrates that federal courts take much longer to resolve cases by trial and appeal than arbitration by AAA.

Mr. Ahlers may be contacted at jahlers@ac-lawyers.com



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