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

November 21, 2017
Richard H. Glucksman, Esq. & Chelsea L. Zwart, Esq. - Chapman Glucksman Dean Roeb & Barger Bulletin

Originally published by CDJ on June 5, 2017

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.

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



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