Noncompliance with the California Contractor’s License Law Brings Severe Consequences

Ted R. Gropman, Pepper Hamilton LLP, Partner

Pacific Caisson & Shoring, Inc. v. Bernards Brothers Inc., 236 Cal. App. 4th 1246 (Cal. Ct. App. 2015)

In California, a contractor must be licensed by the Contractors State License Board (Board) in order to lawfully perform construction operations. The Board issues three types of licenses: an “A,” or general engineering license[1]; a “B,” or general building license[2]; and a series of “C” specialty licenses for trade contractors (e.g., concrete, electrical, glass and glazing, structural steel, drywall, tile, etc.). California Business & Professions Code (B&P) §§ 7056–7058. In order to qualify for a license, a contractor must provide a responsible managing officer (RMO) or a responsible managing employee as its qualifier. B&P § 7068.

The consequences of contracting without the proper license can be severe. An unlicensed contractor may not sue to recover for the value of its work. B&P § 7031(a). Even more damaging, an owner can seek disgorgement of all monies paid to a contractor, even if there was nothing wrong with the contractor’s construction of the project. B&P § 7031(b); Alatriste v. Cesar’s Exterior Designs, Inc., 183 Cal. App. 4th 656 (Cal. Ct. App. 2010). As the California Supreme Court has observed, B&P § 7031 “represents a legislative determination that the importance of deterring unlicensed persons from engaging in the contracting business outweighs any harshness between the parties, and that such deterrence can best be realized by denying violators the right to maintain any action for compensation in the courts of this state.” MW Erectors, Inc. v. Niederhauser Ornamental & Metal Works Co., 36 Cal. 4th 412, 423; 115 P.3d 41 (Cal. 2005). Continue reading “Noncompliance with the California Contractor’s License Law Brings Severe Consequences”

What Every Contractor Needs To Know About Mediation

Bruce W. Ficken

A generation ago, mediation of construction disputes was unusual. Today, it is rare that a construction claim goes to trial without some effort at mediation first. Indeed, a substantial percentage of construction contracts require mediation as a precondition to filing suit or demanded arbitration.

Still, as pervasive as mediation has become, misperceptions about mediation persist among the contractor population generally.

What does a mediator decide? Who controls the proceedings? Is there such a thing as binding mediation? How confidential is confidential during and after a mediation? Continue reading “What Every Contractor Needs To Know About Mediation”

Superior Court of Pennsylvania Holds that Negligent Misrepresentation Exception to Economic Loss Doctrine Under Bilt-Rite May Be Predicated on Implied Representation in Negligently Prepared Design Documents

Gongloff Contracting, L.L.C. v. L. Robert Kimball & Assocs., Architects and Eng’rs, Inc., 2015 Pa. Super 149 (Pa. Super. Ct. July 8, 2015)

Pennsylvania law generally bars negligence claims when the injured party has suffered only economic losses.  This principle is commonly referred to as the economic loss doctrine.  An exception to this doctrine is found in Section 552(1) of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, which provides that, “one who, in the course of his business, profession or employment … supplies false information for the guidance of others in their business transactions, is subject to liability for pecuniary loss caused to them by their justifiable reliance upon the information, if he fails to exercise reasonable care or competence in obtaining or communicating the information.” In Bilt-Rite Contractors, Inc. v. Architectural Studio, 581 Pa. 545 (2005), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted this exception and found it to be applicable in cases where information is negligently supplied by an architect or design professional under circumstances where it is foreseeable that others will rely upon that information.  In Gongloff, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, interpreting Bilt-Rite, held that the Bilt-Rite exception can be triggered when an architect or design professional negligently includes faulty information in its design documents.  The Gongloff court rejected the argument that, under Bilt-Rite, an injured party is required to identify an “express” misrepresentation in a particular communication or document in order to support a claim of negligent misrepresentation. Continue reading “Superior Court of Pennsylvania Holds that Negligent Misrepresentation Exception to Economic Loss Doctrine Under Bilt-Rite May Be Predicated on Implied Representation in Negligently Prepared Design Documents”