California Supreme Court Clarifies That “Right to Repair Act” is Exclusive Remedy for Both Economic Loss and Property Damage Arising From Construction Defects

McMillin Albany LLC v. Superior Court, No. S229762, 2018 Cal. LEXIS 211 (Jan. 18, 2018)

Several homeowners (“Plaintiffs”) brought suit against developer/general contractor McMillin Albany LLC (“McMillin”) for alleged defective construction of new homes.  Plaintiffs alleged the defects caused property damage and economic loss in the form of repair costs and reduced property values, and asserted common law claims for negligence, strict product liability, breach of contract, and breach of warranty, and a statutory claim for violation of the construction standards outlined in the Right to Repair Act (Civ. Code §§ 895–945.5, the “Act”).  The Act defines standards for the construction of individual dwellings; governs various builder obligations, including provision of warranties; creates a prelitigation dispute resolution process; and describes mandatory procedures for lawsuits under the Act.  McMillin sought a stay of proceedings so that the parties could proceed through the Act’s prelitigation dispute process, which includes notice to the builder of defects and an opportunity to cure.  Plaintiffs refused to stipulate to the stay and instead, dismissed their statutory claim.  McMillin then sought a court-ordered stay which Plaintiffs contested, arguing that their suit now omitted any claim under the Act, and therefore, was not subject to its procedures. Continue reading “California Supreme Court Clarifies That “Right to Repair Act” is Exclusive Remedy for Both Economic Loss and Property Damage Arising From Construction Defects”

Supreme Court of Wisconsin Holds That Private Subcontractor Is Immune to Property Damage Claims by Adjoining Landowners Because it Followed Specifications Provided by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Melchert v. Pro Elec. Contrs., 2017 Wis. Lexis 169 (April 7, 2017)

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (“DOT”) contracted with Payne & Dolan (“P&D”) as General Contractor on a road improvement project. P&D in turn contracted with Pro Electric Contractors (“Pro Electric”) to install concrete bases for new traffic signal poles.  DOT provided Pro Electric with detailed plans and specifications for the project (“Project Plan”) that specified the location of the concrete bases and the excavation equipment to be used.  Pro Electric was required to comply with the Project Plan and could only make deviations if approved by DOT’s engineer.

While excavating one of the specified locations, Pro Electric unknowingly severed a sewer line, causing sewage backup and flooding on adjoining private property. Pro Electric then backfilled the excavation site without inspecting the sewer line for damage.  The private property owners (“Owners”) brought a negligence action against Pro Electric.  The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Pro Electric, ruling that it was immune from liability because it was merely implementing DOT’s design decisions.  The court of appeals affirmed, and Owners appealed to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Continue reading “Supreme Court of Wisconsin Holds That Private Subcontractor Is Immune to Property Damage Claims by Adjoining Landowners Because it Followed Specifications Provided by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation”