Federal Court in Pennsylvania Holds Design Professionals’ Negligence Claim Against Pump Supplier Barred By Economic Loss Rule

Elliot-Lewis Corp. v. Skanska USA Building, Inc., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98405 (E.D. Pa. July 27, 2015)

This dispute arises out of a major renovation and expansion of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (the “Project”).  Plaintiff Elliot-Lewis Corporation (“ELCo”) was a subcontractor hired to install the piping and controls for the Project’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (“HVAC”) system.  The Project’s schedule required that start up and testing of the HVAC system begin by February 23, 2013 and that the system be operational by April 1, 2013.  But, when the HVAC was started for testing, flooding issues arose due to problems with the condenser pumps specified in the HVAC system’s specifications.  Ultimately, the HVAC system was not operational by April 1 and ELCo was required to perform additional work and install temporary cooling equipment so that the Franklin Institute could open during the summer.  ELCo was never paid by the prime contractor for this additional work. Continue reading “Federal Court in Pennsylvania Holds Design Professionals’ Negligence Claim Against Pump Supplier Barred By Economic Loss Rule”

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”

Texas Court of Appeals Holds that Economic Loss Doctrine Does Not Bar Building Owner’s Negligence Claims Against Geotechnical Engineer

USA Walnut Creek, DST v. Terracon Consultants, Inc. f/k/a HBC Engineering, Inc., 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 1806 (Tex. App. 2015)

This cases arises out of the construction of a twelve building apartment complex in Austin Texas.  The builders, Creekstone Walnut, LP and Creekstone Builders, Inc., contracted with defendant Terracon for geotechnical engineering and inspection services.  As part of the services, Terracon performed test borings and provided the geotechnical recommendations for, among other things, the foundation design.  Terracon’s inspection services included providing testing and inspection of the construction materials, including compaction testing on the earthwork. Continue reading “Texas Court of Appeals Holds that Economic Loss Doctrine Does Not Bar Building Owner’s Negligence Claims Against Geotechnical Engineer”