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    California Builders Right To Repair Current Law Summary:

    Current Law Summary: SB800 (codified as Civil Code §§895, et seq) is the most far-reaching, complex law regulating construction defect litigation, right to repair, warranty obligations and maintenance requirements transference in the country. In essence, to afford protection against frivolous lawsuits, builders shall do all the following:A homeowner is obligated to follow all reasonable maintenance obligations and schedules communicated in writing to the homeowner by the builder and product manufacturers, as well as commonly accepted maintenance practices. A failure by a homeowner to follow these obligations, schedules, and practices may subject the homeowner to the affirmative defenses.A builder, under the principles of comparative fault pertaining to affirmative defenses, may be excused, in whole or in part, from any obligation, damage, loss, or liability if the builder can demonstrate any of the following affirmative defenses in response to a claimed violation:


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    Through more than four thousand general contracting and design related expert designations, the Anaheim, California Construction Expert Directory provides a streamlined multi-disciplinary expert retention and support solution to builders and construction practice groups seeking effective resolution of construction defect, scheduling, and delay matters. BHA provides construction claims investigation and expert services to the nation's most recognized construction practice groups, public builders, risk managers, owners, state and local government agencies. Employing in house resources which comprise licensed architects, registered professional engineers, ASPE certified professional estimators, ICC Certified inspection and testing professionals, the firm brings national experience and local capabilities to Anaheim and the surrounding areas.

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    Anaheim, California

    Woodbridge II and the Nuanced Meaning of “Adverse Use” in Hostile Property Rights Cases in Colorado

    November 23, 2020 —
    Earlier this year, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued an opinion addressing at length “whether the requirement that the use be ‘adverse’ in the adverse possession context is coextensive with adverse use in the prescriptive easement context.” See Woodbridge Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Lo Viento Blanco, LLC, 2020 COA 34 (Woodbridge II), ¶ 2, cert. granted, No. 20SC292, 2020 WL 5405376 (Colo. Sept. 8, 2020). As detailed below, the Woodbridge II court concluded that the meanings of “adverse” in these two contexts are not coextensive—while “hostility” in the adverse possession context requires a claim of exclusive ownership of the property, a party claiming a prescriptive easement is only required to “show a nonpermissive or otherwise unauthorized use of property that interfered with the owner’s property interests.” Thus, the Woodbridge II court reasoned a claimants’ acknowledgement or recognition of an owner’s title alone is insufficient to defeat “adverse use” in the prescriptive easement context. This significant ruling is at odds with a prior division’s broad statement, while considering a prescriptive easement claim, that “[i]n general, when an adverse occupier acknowledges or recognizes the title of the owner during the occupant’s claimed prescriptive period, the occupant interrupts the prescriptive use.” See Trask v. Nozisko, 134 P.3d 544, 553 (Colo. App. 2006). Perhaps for that reason, Woodbridge II is currently pending certiorari review before the Colorado Supreme Court in a case that should provide some much-needed clarity on what constitutes “adverse use” in the context of a prescriptive easement. As we await the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision, I thought it worthwhile to provide a brief analysis of the Woodbridge II court’s deep dive into the nuances of “adverse use” in this field of Colorado law. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Luke Mecklenburg, Snell & Wilmer
    Mr. Mecklenburg may be contacted at lmecklenburg@swlaw.com

    DC Metro Extension’s Precast Supplier Banned from Federal Contracts

    November 16, 2020 —
    Stowe, Pa.-based Universal Concrete Products, which supplied hundreds of defective precast panels for the $2.7 billion Silver Line light rail extension in northern Virginia, has received a three-year ban on participating in federally financed transportation projects. Imposed by the Federal Transit Administration, the ban makes Universal ineligible for contracts, grants, loans or other financial assistance from agency of the federal government until the end of 2023. Reprinted courtesy of Jim Parsons, Engineering News-Record ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com Read the full story... Read the court decision
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    Eleventh Circuit Vacates District Court Decision Finding No Duty to Defend Faulty Workmanship Claims

    November 02, 2020 —
    The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to the insurer finding there was no duty to defend. Southern-Owners Ins. Co. v. Mac Contractors of Florida, LLC, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 23918 (11th Cir. July 29, 2020). Mac Contractors entered into a contract with homeowners to serve as general contractor for the construction of a custom residence. Problems arose during construction and Mac eventually led the job site before completing the project. The home owners sued, alleging that Mac and its subcontractors had left the residence "replete with construction defects." Damages were sought for having to repair and remediate all defective work performed by Mac. Mac tendered under its CGL policy to its insurer, Southern-Owners. A defense was granted, but later withdrawn when Southern-Owners filed suit seeking a declaration that it owed no duty to defend or indemnify Mac. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court found in favor of Southern-Owners based on the exclusion for "Damage to Your Work." The Eleventh Circuit vacated on appeal, concluding that the underlying complaint could fairly be construed to allege damages that fell outside of the exclusion. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Tred R. Eyerly, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert
    Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at te@hawaiilawyer.com

    Accounting for Payments on Projects Became Even More Crucial This Year

    September 21, 2020 —
    I discussed several of the statutory changes affecting the construction industry here at Construction Law Musings in the run-up to July 1, 2020. One of those changes, an amendment to Virginia Code Section 43-13, may add another arrow to the collection quiver of subcontractors and suppliers. As part of the previously-linked rundown, I highlighted one of the big additions in 2020, namely the amendment making those pesky clauses that let those up the payment chain from you hold money on “this or any other project” void as against public policy. The other big addition to 43-13 is the change that adds a possible civil cause of action for downstream and unpaid subcontractors and suppliers in the event that funds paid to a general contractor or subcontractor are not first used to pay their downstream contractors and suppliers. Prior to July 1, 2020, this statute provided criminal penalties for such behavior but did not contain the possibility of a civil penalty. The operative language for the change is as follows:
    The use by any such contractor or subcontractor or any officer, director, or employee of such contractor or subcontractor of any moneys paid under the contract before paying all amounts due or to become due for labor performed or material furnished for such building or structure for any other purpose than paying such amounts due on the project shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud. Any breach or violation of this section may give rise to a civil cause of action for a party in contract with the general contractor or subcontractor, as appropriate; however, this right does not affect a contractor’s or subcontractor’s right to withhold payment for failure to properly perform labor or furnish materials on the project.
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    Reprinted courtesy of The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill
    Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com

    Hundreds of Coronavirus Coverage Cases Await Determination on Consolidation

    September 21, 2020 —
    On July 30, 2020, the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (JPML) heard oral argument on the potential consolidation of all federal cases involving business interruption coverage relating to coronavirus and shut-down orders. A decision will be rendered in the near future. Meanwhile, many cases are on hold, waiting for a determination on consolidation. One such case is Pigment Inc. v. Hartford Fin. Servs. Group, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133230 (S.D. Cal. July 27, 2020), where the court granted a stay pending a decision by the JPML. The case is a class action based on denial of coverage under business interruption insurance. Plaintiff's case alleged a bad faith denial that risked the permanent closure of its business due to unexpected temporary shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiff sought a stay pending the decision of the JPML. The court considered the possible damage which could result from granting a stay, the hardship which a party could suffer in being required to go forward, and the orderly course of justice measured by the simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and questions of law which could be expected to result from a stay. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Tred R. Eyerly, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert
    Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at te@hawaiilawyer.com

    Pensacola Bridge Repair Plan Grows as Inspectors Uncover More Damage

    September 28, 2020 —
    With a still-growing list of repairs needed to restore the barge-damaged Pensacola Bay Bridge, the Florida Dept. of Transportation has yet to determine a timeline for completing repairs. But assessments by the agency’s inspectors indicate that impacts from several Skanska-owned construction barges that unmoored during Hurricane Sally not only resulted in five irreparable spans, as previously reported, but at least two more that will require partial replacement. Jim Parsons, Engineering News-Record ENR may be contacted at ENR.com@bnpmedia.com Read the full story... Read the court decision
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    Construction Manager’s Win in Michigan after Michigan Supreme Court Finds a Subcontractor’s Unintended Faulty Work is an ‘Occurrence’ Under CGL

    August 03, 2020 —
    On June 29, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned a longstanding precedent that commercial general liability (“CGL”) insurers have historically relied upon to deny insurance coverage for claims involving pre-1986 CGL policies. See Hawkeye-Security Ins. Co. v. Vector Const. Co., 185 Mich. App. 369, 372, 460 N.W.2d 329, 331 (1990). In its recent ruling, the state Supreme Court unanimously agreed that an Insurance Services Office, Inc. (“ISO”) 1986 standard CGL policy, which is sold to construction contractors across the United States, provides coverage for property damage to a policyholder’s work product that resulted from a subcontractor’s unintended faulty workmanship. Skanska USA Bldg. Inc. v. M.A.P. Mech. Contractors, Inc., No. 159510, 2020 WL 3527909 (Mich. June 29, 2020). In 2008, Skanska USA Building, Inc., the construction manager on a renovation project for Mid-Michigan Medical Center, signed a subcontract with defendant M.A.P. Mechanical Contractors (“MAP”) to install a new heating and cooling (“HVAC”) system. Id. During the renovation, MAP installed some of the expansion joints in the new HVAC system backwards. Id. The defective installation caused approximately $1.4 million in property damage to concrete, steel and the heating system, which Skanska discovered nearly two years after MAP completed the project. Id. After performing the repairs and replacing the damaged property, Skanska sought repayment for the repair costs from MAP and also submitted a claim to Amerisure seeking coverage as an insured under the CGL policy. Id. When Amerisure rejected Skanska’s claim, Skanska sued both parties. Id. Amerisure relied on the holding in Hawkeye and argued that MAP’s defective workmanship was not a covered “occurrence” under the CGL policy, which the policy defined as an accident. Id. at *4. The Michigan Court of Appeals ignored the express language contained in the CGL policy and applied a prior appellate court precedent from Hawkeye, finding that MAP’s faulty work was not an “occurrence” and thus, did not trigger CGL coverage. Id. at *4. The Court of Appeals further reasoned that Skanska was an Amerisure policyholder and that the only property damage was to Skanska’s own work, which was not covered under the CGL policy. Id. at *5. In a landmark decision, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed, holding unanimously that the Court of Appeals incorrectly applied the holding of Hawkeye because it failed to consider the impact of the 1986 revisions to standard CGL insurance policies. Id. at *10. Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack explained that the Hawkeye decision rested on the 1973 version of the ISO form insurance policy, which specifically excluded certain business risks from coverage such as property damage to a policyholder’s own work. Id. The Supreme Court agreed that while Hawkeye was correctly decided, it did not apply here because the 1986 revised ISO policy includes an exception for property damage caused by a subcontractor’s unintentional faulty work. Id. The Supreme Court said that under the plain reading of the current CGL policy language, an “accident” could include a subcontractor’s unintentional defective work that damaged a policyholder’s work product and thus, may qualify as an “occurrence” covered under the policy. Id. at *9. The Supreme Court defined an “accident” (which was not defined in the Amerisure policy) as “an undefined contingency, a casualty, a happening by chance, something out of the usual course of things, unusual, fortuitous, not anticipated, and not naturally to be expected.” Id. at *5; see Allstate Ins. Co. v. McCarn, 466 Mich. 277, 281, 645 N.W.2d 20, 23 (2002). The Supreme Court noted that there was no evidence suggesting that MAP purposefully installed the expansion joints backwards, nor was there evidence indicating that the parties affected by MAP’s negligence anticipated, foresaw, or expected MAP’s defective installation or property damage. Skanska, 2020 WL 3527909, at *4. Therefore, the Supreme Court concluded that an “occurrence” may have happened, which would trigger coverage under the CGL policy. Id. at *10. Although this landmark decision changes Michigan law, the decision is limited to cases involving the 1986 ISO policy language revisions to CGL insurance policies. Id. The Supreme Court's decision does not overturn Hawkeye, but rather limits Hawkeye’s authority to cases involving the 1973 ISO form. Id. Gabrielle Szlachta-McGinn was a summer associate at Newmeyer Dillion as part of the firm's 2020 summer class. You may learn more about Newmeyer Dillion's construction litigation services and find the group's key contacts at https://www.newmeyerdillion.com/construction-litigation/. Read the court decision
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    Litigation Privilege Saves the Day for Mechanic’s Liens

    November 23, 2020 —
    In RGC Gaslamp v. Ehmcke Sheet Metal Co., the Fourth Appellate District held that a trial court properly granted an anti-SLAPP motion because the recording of a mechanic’s lien is protected by the litigation privilege. In RGC Gaslamp, subcontractor Ehmcke Sheet Metal Company (“Ehmcke”) recorded a mechanic’s lien to recoup payment due for sheet metal fabrication and installation done at a luxury hotel project in downtown San Diego. Project owner RGC Gaslamp, LLC (“RGC”) recorded a release bond for the lien. Thereafter, Ehmcke recorded three successive mechanic’s liens identical to the first, prompting RGC to sue it for quiet title, slander of title, and declaratory and injunctive relief. After retaining California counsel, Ehmcke then released its liens and advised it did not intend to record any more. Ehmcke then filed a special motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute (Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16.) which was granted. Reprinted courtesy of Stephen M. Tye, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP and Lawrence S. Zucker II, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP Mr. Tye may be contacted at stye@hbblaw.com Mr. Zucker may be contacted at lzucker@hbblaw.com Read the court decision
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