1
Builder Must Respond To Homeowner’s Notice Of Claim Within 14 Days Even If Construction Defect Claim Is Not Alleged With The “Reasonable Detail” Required By California’s Civil Code – Blanchette v. Superior Court (2017) 8 Cal.App.5th 521
2
Federal And State Courts Of Appeal Offer Further Guidance On Discriminatory Versus Legitimate Non-Discriminatory Business Decisions And The Weight Of The “Knowledge” Factor
3
CGL Exclusions Common to Construction-Related Claims
4
California’s Court Of Appeal Confirms That Comparative Fault Applies To Professional Malpractice Claims And That Pre-Judgment Interest Is Not Recoverable Where Issues Exist On Fault And Apportionment
5
California Court Of Appeal Holds Plaintiff’s Rejection Of Settlement Requiring Waiver Of Claims Is Reasonable In Goglin v. BMW of North America, LLC (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 462
6
Ninth Circuit Requires Increased Disclosures Related To The Sale Of “Certified” Pre-Owned Vehicles In Gonzales v. Carmax Auto Superstores, LLC (2016) 840 F.3d 644
7
UPDATE – McMillin Albany LLC v. Superior Court
8
$24 Million Verdict Against Material Supplier Overturned Where Plaintiff Failed To Prove Supplier’s Negligence Or Breach Of Contract Caused A SB800 Violation
9
Immigration Status No Longer Discoverable in Personal Injury Cases
10
Significant Victory for the Building Industry: Liberty Mutual is Rejected Once Again, This Time by the Third Appellate District in Holding SB800 is the Exclusive Remedy

Builder Must Respond To Homeowner’s Notice Of Claim Within 14 Days Even If Construction Defect Claim Is Not Alleged With The “Reasonable Detail” Required By California’s Civil Code – Blanchette v. Superior Court (2017) 8 Cal.App.5th 521

By: Richard H. Glucksman and David A. Napper
May 25, 2017

On February 10, 2017, California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal held that if a builder fails to acknowledge receipt of a homeowner’s Notice of Claim within 14 days, as required by the Right to Repair Act (“SB800”), specifically California Civil Code §913, the homeowner is released from the requirements of SB800 and may proceed with the filing of a lawsuit.

In Blanchette v. Superior Court, Blanchette owned 1 of 28 homes constructed by GHA Enterprises, Inc. (“GHA”). On February 2, 2016, Blanchette served GHA with notice of a claim, setting forth the alleged defects in all 28 homes. On February 23, 2016, GHA responded that the construction defects were not alleged with sufficient “reasonable detail” as required by Civil Code §910. In response, Blanchette asserted that GHA’s response was untimely and thus excused him and the other homeowners from any obligations under SB800.  The trial court found for the builder, GHA, holding that Blanchette’s Notice of Claim lacked detail sufficient to trigger GHA’s obligations under SB800.  Blanchette appealed the ruling.

Read More

Federal And State Courts Of Appeal Offer Further Guidance On Discriminatory Versus Legitimate Non-Discriminatory Business Decisions And The Weight Of The “Knowledge” Factor

By: Gregory K. Sabo and Chelsea L. Zwart
May 25, 2017

Mendoza v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles (9th Cir. 2016) 824 F.3d 1148

In Mendoza v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles (9th Cir. 2016) 824 F.3d 1148, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employer is not required to offer an employee the same position upon return from sick leave if the position was eliminated during the employee’s leave period for a legitimate non-discriminatory business reason.

In Mendoza, prior to taking sick leave for ten months, the plaintiff worked full-time as a bookkeeper for a small Catholic church.  During her absence, the pastor of the church took over the bookkeeping duties himself and determined that the duties could be performed adequately by a part-time bookkeeper.  Accordingly, when the plaintiff returned to work, the pastor offered her the same bookkeeping position she had held before her leave of absence, but on a part-time basis.  The plaintiff refused, demanding a full-time position.  She then sued her former employer, asserting claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) for discrimination, disparate treatment, and failure to accommodate for failing to return her to a full-time position following her medical leave.

Read More

CGL Exclusions Common to Construction-Related Claims

By: Dominic J. Fote
Published by AmWINS Group, Inc.

The Commercial General Liability policy (CGL) is an essential factor in the equation that consists of building planning, financing, construction, operation, and protection from risk. While its coverage potential is determined by claim professionals and insurance coverage counsel daily throughout the country, it is useful to step back and consider application examples of some of the standard form’s most prominent provisions. The following is a primer on three of the CGL form’s exclusions which most commonly come into play in the world of construction defect claims.

Read More

California’s Court Of Appeal Confirms That Comparative Fault Applies To Professional Malpractice Claims And That Pre-Judgment Interest Is Not Recoverable Where Issues Exist On Fault And Apportionment

By: Ashley H. Verdon
May 25, 2017

In Yale v. Bowne (2017) 9 Cal.App.5th 649, Yale sued her former attorney for negligence in the preparation of an estate plan which, contrary to Yale’s wishes, transmuted all of her separate property to community property, and ultimately forced her to enter into an unfavorable settlement with her ex-husband so that Yale could avoid potentially losing half of everything in her divorce.  In the negligence case, the jury found that Yale’s attorney was professionally negligent and that Yale was comparatively negligent, allocating 90% fault to her attorney and 10% fault to Yale.

Read More

California Court Of Appeal Holds Plaintiff’s Rejection Of Settlement Requiring Waiver Of Claims Is Reasonable In Goglin v. BMW of North America, LLC (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 462

By: Gregory K. Sabo and Chelsea L. Zwart
May 25, 2017

In Goglin v. BMW of North America, LLC (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 462, the Fourth District California Court of Appeal held that a plaintiff’s rejection of a pre-litigation offer including extraneous non-financial terms is reasonable and therefore does not preclude the plaintiff from recovering attorneys’ fees under California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (California Civil Code §§1790 et seq.) upon prevailing in the action.

Prior to initiating litigation in Goglin, the plaintiff notified BMW of her claims, asserting the dealer violated the Consumer’s Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”) by selling her a used vehicle with undisclosed prior collision damage and an extensive history of mechanical failure. To resolve the issue, BMW offered to repurchase the vehicle, pay off her loan, and reimburse her for the down payment and loan payments made less an offset for depreciation and reimburse her for reasonable attorneys’ fees. The offer was contingent upon the plaintiff signing a settlement and release agreement including terms for a general release, waiver of California Civil Code §1542, dismissal with prejudice of any lawsuit she may have filed against BMW, and a confidentiality and nondisparagement clause.

Read More

Ninth Circuit Requires Increased Disclosures Related To The Sale Of “Certified” Pre-Owned Vehicles In Gonzales v. Carmax Auto Superstores, LLC (2016) 840 F.3d 644

By: Gregory K. Sabo and Chelsea L. Zwart
May 25, 2017

In Gonzales v. CarMax Auto Superstores, LLC (2016) 840 F.3d 644, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that to comply with California’s Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights, Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), and Consumer’s Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”), a dealer selling a “certified” pre-owed vehicle must indicate the pass/fail result of each component inspected, not simply provide the buyer with a completed inspection form listing which parts were inspected.

In Gonzales, the plaintiff brought suit claiming violations of the UCL and CLRA after purchasing a “certified” used vehicle from CarMax, and alleging that the deal failed to comply with California Vehicle Code §11713.18(a)(6), which requires a dealer to provide consumers with a “completed inspection report” prior to the sale of a “certified” used vehicle.

Read More

UPDATE – McMillin Albany LLC v. Superior Court

By: Richard H Glucksman, Glenn T. Barger, and David A. Napper
May 25, 2017

The matter has been fully briefed since last year and the construction industry anxiously awaits the California Supreme Court’s highly anticipated decision regarding McMillin Albany LLC v. Superior Court (2015) 239 Cal.App.4th 1132.  Numerous amicus briefs have also been filed including one by the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, with the immediate past president of the organization, CGDRB’s Glenn T. Barger, Esq., listed as the attorney of record.  The Supreme Court will consider the issue of whether the Right to Repair Act (SB800) is the exclusive remedy for all defect claims arising out of new residential construction sold on or after January 1, 2003, thereby resolving the split of authority presented by the Fifth Appellate District’s holding in McMillin Albany, which outright rejected the Fourth Appellate District’s holding in Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Brookfield Crystal Cove LLC (2013) 219 Cal.App.4th 98, on this particular issue.  Oral argument is still pending and CGDRB will continue to closely monitor the progress of this case.  Stay tuned.

$24 Million Verdict Against Material Supplier Overturned Where Plaintiff Failed To Prove Supplier’s Negligence Or Breach Of Contract Caused A SB800 Violation

By: Jon A. Turigliatto and Chelsea L. Zwart
May 25, 2017

The Fourth District California Court of Appeal published its decision, Acqua Vista Homeowners Assoc. v. MWI, Inc. (2017) 7 Cal.App.5th 1129, holding that claims against a material supplier under SB800 (Civil Code §895, et. seq.) require proof that the SB800 violation was caused by the supplier’s negligence or breach of contract.

In this case, Acqua Vista Homeowners Association (“the HOA”) sued MWI, a supplier of Chinese pipe used in the construction of the Acqua Vista condominium development.  The HOA’s complaint asserted a single cause of action for violation of SB800 standards, and alleged that defective cast iron pipe was used throughout the building.  At trial, the HOA presented evidence that the pipes supplied by MWI contained manufacturing defects, that they leaked, and that the leaks had caused damage to various parts of the condominium development.  The jury returned a special verdict against MWI, and the trial court entered a judgment against MWI in the amount of $23,955,796.28, reflecting the jury’s finding that MWI was 92% responsible for the HOA’s damages.

Read More

Immigration Status No Longer Discoverable in Personal Injury Cases

By: Jon A. Turigliatto, Esq. and Chelsea L. Zwart, Esq.
December 9, 2016

NEW CALIFORNIA EVIDENCE CODE SECTION 351.2 PROHIBITS DISCOVERY AND ADMISSIBILITY OF A PERSON’S IMMIGRATION STATUS FOR PURPOSES OF LIMITING DAMAGE CLAIMS.

On January 1, 2017, AB 2159, which prohibits discovery related to a person’s immigration status in personal injury and wrongful death actions, will become effective, adding Section 351.2 to the California Evidence Code and overturning Rodriguez v. Kline (1986) 186 Cal.App.3d 1146.

Under Rodriguez v. Kline, an individual injured in the United States who is subject to deportation is not entitled to compensation based upon his or her projected earning capacity in the United States, but rather may only recovery damages for lost future income the individual would have earned in his or her country of origin. Later case law applied Rodriguez v. Kline to the recovery of medical costs, limiting recovery by an undocumented person to the amount the individual would have incurred for medical treatment in his or her country of origin.

Newly introduced Evidence Code Section 351.2 states:

(a) In a civil action for personal injury or wrongful death, evidence of a person’s immigration status shall not be admitted into evidence, nor shall discovery into a person’s immigration status be permitted.

(b) This section does not affect the standards of relevance, admissibility, or discovery prescribed by Section 3339 of the Civil Code, Section 7285 of the Government Code, Section 24000 of the Health and Safety Code, and Section 1171.5 of the Labor Code.

Proponents of Section 351.2, which effectively invalidates Rodriguez v. Kline, assert that the rationale behind the new law is to ensure that personal injury and wrongful death victims are not penalized for their immigration status and to protect undocumented immigrants from being exploited.  The intent is to equalize compensation received by persons who work and live in California and thus should be entitled to equal treatment in the California court system, regardless of immigration status.

By prohibiting the discovery and admissibility of a plaintiff’s immigration status, the new code section will have a severe impact on defendants’ potential exposure for damages relating to lost income and medical expenses.  After January 1, 2017, an undocumented person’s loss of earnings claim will no longer be limited to wages earned in his or her country of origin, but will rather be based on the individual’s income in the United States, whether here legally or not.  The same will be true for medical expenses, which will be based on those actually incurred.

Historically, many undocumented plaintiffs did not pursue loss of earnings claims as defendants regularly pointed to immigration status as a way to significantly lower potential exposure for such claims. Given that earnings and medical costs are generally substantially higher in the United States than in countries from which people immigrate without documentation, the enactment of Evidence Code Section 351.2 will deliberately result in larger awards for loss of income and medical expenses to injured immigrants.

Significant Victory for the Building Industry: Liberty Mutual is Rejected Once Again, This Time by the Third Appellate District in Holding SB800 is the Exclusive Remedy

By: Richard H. Glucksman and Ravi R. Mehta
December 8, 2016

I. Elliott Homes, Inc. v. Superior Court (Certified for Publication, Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 2, 2016

The California Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District recently elaborated on the scope of the Right to Repair Act, commonly known as SB-800 (“Act”).  In Elliott Homes, Inc. v. Superior Court of Sacramento County (Kevin Hicks, et al.) (certified for publication, Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 2, 2016), the Court considered whether the Act (and specifically the Act’s pre-litigation procedure) applies, when homeowners  plead construction defect claims based only on common law causes of action, as opposed to violations of the building standards set forth in the Act (Civil Code §896).  The Court answered this question affirmatively.

The homeowners of seventeen (17) single-family homes filed a Complaint against the builder of their homes, Elliott Homes, Inc. (“Elliott”), alleging common law causes of action for construction defects.  Elliott filed a motion to stay the litigation on the ground that the homeowners failed to comply with the pre-litigation procedure set forth in the Act.  The trial court denied the motion, agreeing with the homeowners that this pre-litigation procedure did not apply because the homeowners had not alleged a statutory violation of the Act.  Elliott appealed.  The Court of Appeal purely considered the question of whether the Act, including its pre-litigation procedure, applies when a homeowner pleads construction defect claims based on common law causes of action, and not on statutory violations of the Act’s building standards.

Read More

© Copyright 2000-2016 Chapman, Glucksman, Dean, Roeb & Barger apc - All Rights Reserved