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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s postconviction motion, holding that trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance and that there was no Brady violation in the proceedings below. Appellant was convicted of sixteen felonies based on allegations that he had repeated sexual contact with two juveniles and exposed them to pornography. Appellant filed a postconviciton motion asserting, among other things, ineffective assistance of counsel claims and a claim that the State violated its obligations under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The circuit court denied the postconviction motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) even if trial counsel’s performance was deficient, there was no prejudice to Defendant; and (2) the State did not violate Defendant’s due process rights under Brady when it failed to disclose impeachment evidence about a government witness’s pending charges. View "State v. Wayerski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the findings of the district court that a confessed judgment was unreasonable and the product of collusion, and, on the basis of these findings, reversed and remanded the district court’s amended judgment with instructions to dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims with prejudice, holding that the district court abused its discretion when it opted to reduce the settlement amount rather than dismiss the action. Plaintiff brought this action against a contractor after it discovered construction defects and associated problems with a massive luxury home. The district court entered a $12 million stipulated judgment against the contractor. The Supreme Court reversed with instructions for the district court to address an insurer’s request to intervene to challenge the reasonableness of the confessed judgment and whether it was the product of collusion. On remand, the district court reduced the judgment to approximately $2.4 million. The Supreme Court held (1) the confessed judgment was unreasonable and the product of collusion; (2) the district court should have dismissed the action rather than reduce the settlement amount; and (3) the district court properly awarded attorney fees and costs to the insurer, but the case is remanded for recalculation of the award to include only costs allowable under Mont. Code Ann. 25-10-201. View "Abbey/Land, LLC v. Glacier Construction Partners, LLC" on Justia Law

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In this appeal involving a dispute over payment for the construction of a traditional timber frame home, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court calculating the damages recoverable under the Unfair Trade Practice Act (UTPA) stemming from Contractor’s violation of the Home Construction Contracts Act (HCCA), holding that, the superior court did not err in its judgment. Contractor brought this action seeking to be paid for his unpaid labor. The superior court concluded (1) Contractor was entitled to the money he had already received from Homeowners under the theory of quantum meruit; (2) Homeowners did not meet their burden of proof as to their counterclaims; and (3) Contractor violated the HCCA by failing to furnish a written contract, which was prima facie evidence of a UTPA violation. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) while the parties did not sign a contract in this case, the superior court’s application of quantum meruit was appropriate; (2) the superior court did not err in concluding that Homeowners failed to prove their counterclaims; (3) Homeowners were not entitled to additional damages under the UTPA; and (4) the attorneys fees award in this case was sufficient. View "Sweet v. Breivogel" on Justia Law

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During road-construction operations, a truck owned or operated by Eustis Cable Enterprises, LTD, which was participating in the construction activity, struck and killed a flagger for Green Mountain Flaggers. The truck hit the flagger when the driver began backing it up in the southbound breakdown lane on Route 7 in Middlebury, Vermont. In response to the accident, the Commissioner of Labor investigated and ultimately cited Eustis for two alleged violations of 29 C.F.R. 1926.601: a failure to ensure that the vehicle’s backup alarm was audible above the surrounding noise level; and a failure to assure the safety devices were in a safe condition at the beginning of each shift. The Commissioner assessed $11,340 in fines ($5670 for each violation). Eustis appealed the civil division’s affirmance of the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Act (VOSHA) review board’s determination that Eustis failed to meet VOSHA’s motor-vehicle requirements and the resulting assessment of a fine for the violations. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded the evidence and findings did not support the board’s conclusion that Eustis was on notice of the violation and accordingly reverse and strike the citation alleging a violation of 29 C.F.R. 1926.601(b)(14) and associated penalty. View "Commissioner of Labor v. Eustis Cable Enterprises, LTD" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal were commercial general liability policy exclusions that barred coverage for damage to “that particular part” of the property on which an insured is performing operations, or which must be repaired or replaced due to the insured’s incorrect work. The Tenth Circuit concluded the phrase “that particular part” was susceptible to more than one reasonable construction: it could refer to the distinct component upon which an insured works or to all parts ultimately impacted by that work. The Court surmised the contract had to then be interpreted consistent with the mutual intent of the parties, with the ambiguity resolved most favorably to the insured and against the insurance carrier. The Court adopted the narrower interpretation of the phrase “that particular part,” under which the exclusion extends only to the distinct components upon which work was performed. This conclusion was contrary to the district court's interpretation, and therefore reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "MTI v. Employers Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Land Holdings I, LLC, d/b/a Scarlet Pearl, LLC (“Casino”), sought to expunge a lien filed by GSI Services, LLC (“GSI”). The chancellor denied the Casino’s petition to expunge the lien because GSI performed work at the Casino within ninety days of filing its lien. Finding no error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the chancellor’s order. View "Land Holdings I, LLC d/b/a Scarlet Pearl, LLC v. GSI Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this construction dispute, holding that summary judgment was appropriate. Plaintiff entered into a contract with a general contractor to construct a facility. The general contractor subcontracted the roofing installation to Defendant. When the roof began to leak, Plaintiff filed a complaint against the general contractor and Defendant, alleging breach of contract, breach of the implied warranty to construct in good and workmanlike manner, misrepresentation, and negligence. The superior court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, holding that Plaintiff was only an incidental beneficiary, as opposed to an intended beneficiary, of the subcontract between Defendant and the general contractor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the motion justice appropriately granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s claims. View "Hexagon Holdings, Inc. v. Carlisle Syntec Inc." on Justia Law

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Berkeley appealed the judgment against it in a construction dispute regarding a building on the Merced Campus. After the University denied Berkeley's claim for compensation for work performed, Berkeley filed suit alleging causes of action for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and breach of the implied covenant of the correctness of the plans and specifications. The Court of Appeal held that the jury's findings were not fatally inconsistent and the verdict was not against the law; the trial court did not err in instructing the jury that specification 03300 of the contract constituted a performance specification, and Berkeley was required to exercise its skill and judgment in selecting the means, methods, and equipment necessary to meet the end result called for in the specification; there was no abuse of discretion or deprivation of a fair trial; Berkeley has not demonstrated any prejudicial error in the trial court's exclusion of evidence of the total cost method of calculating damages; and Berkeley has not established any reversible error in the trial court's award of mediation fees as costs. However, the court held that the expert witness fees were improperly included in the award of costs and therefore must be modified. The court otherwise affirmed the judgment. View "Berkeley Cement, Inc. v. Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law

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Petitioners sought a writ of mandate and declaratory relief, alleging that the City of Monterey Park breached its duty under Labor Code section 1072 to award a 10-percent bidding preference only to contractors who declare in their bids they will retain existing employees for at least 90 days. The trial court held that there was no such duty and ruled in favor of the City. The Court of Appeal held that words "shall declare as part of the bid" in Labor Code section 1072, subdivision (a), mean the bidder must state in its bid whether it will retain the employees of the prior contractor for 90 days. If the public agency (or "awarding authority") gives the statutory preference to bidders who do not agree in their bids to retain the employees of the prior contractor for at least 90 days, a bidder who makes the commitment is not really getting a statutory preference. The court held that whether a variance is inconsequential is a question of fact, subject to review for substantial evidence, that is not properly decided on demurrer. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded with directions for the trial court to vacate its order sustaining the demurrer without leave to amend and to enter a new order overruling the demurrer. View "International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. City of Monterey Park" on Justia Law

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The South Carolina Supreme Court accepted a certified question of South Carolina law from the federal district court, which stemmed from the construction of a home near Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Mark Lawrence constructed his home using structural insulated panels manufactured by General Panel Corporation. Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are a structural alternative to traditional wood-frame construction. Lawrence claims faulty installation of the General Panel SIPs used in constructing his home allowed water intrusion, which in turn caused the panels to rot, damaging the structural integrity of his home. He brought a claim in federal district court alleging General Panel was liable for providing defective installation instructions to the subcontractor installing the SIPs. General Panel filed a motion for summary judgment, based on a South Carolina statute of repose: 15-3-640. The statute provided "No actions to recover damages based upon or arising out of the defective or unsafe condition of an improvement to real property may be brought more than eight years after substantial completion of the improvement." General Panel's relief depended on the date of "substantial completion." The subcontractor completed the installation of the SIPs in Lawrence's home by March 2007. The home was not finished, however, until over a year later. Charleston County issued a certificate of occupancy on December 10, 2008. Lawrence filed his lawsuit against General Panel on December 8, 2016, more than eight years after installation of the SIPs, but less than eight years after the certificate of occupancy was issued. The federal district court asked whether South Carolina Act 27 of 2005 amended section 15-3- 640 (Supp. 2018) so that the date of "substantial completion of the improvement" is measured from the date of the certificate of occupancy (unless the parties establish a different date by written agreement), thereby superseding the South Carolina Supreme Court's decision in Ocean Winds Corp. of Johns Island v. Lane, 556 S.E.2d 377 (2001). The Supreme Court responded in the negative: the 2005 amendments did not supersede Ocean Winds. View "Lawrence v. General Panel Corp." on Justia Law