Justia Construction Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Class Action
Palmer, et al. v. Gentek Building Products, Inc.
Gentek Building Products, Inc. appealed after a jury awarded Richard and Angela Palmer damages of $10,791, plus interest. Gentek also appealed an order awarding attorney fees of $80,379 to the Palmers, and taxation of costs and disbursements. In 2003, the Palmers purchased and installed “Driftwood” steel siding from Gentek on their home in Williston. Gentek provided a lifetime limited warranty for the siding. In September 2011, the paint began to peel on the siding installed on the south side of the home. In January 2012, the Palmers submitted a warranty claim to Gentek. Gentek offered the Palmers the option of either a cash settlement or replacement with a substitute siding under the warranty, since Gentek had discontinued producing the type of siding originally installed. While the Palmers opted to have their siding replaced with a substitute, Gentek had difficulty finding a contractor willing to perform the warranty work due to the oil boom in the area. Thousands of others also experienced delaminated pain on their siding and filed warranty claims with Gentek, resulting in a class action lawsuit filed in federal district court in Ohio. The federal district court entered a final order and judgment approving a class action settlement. In 2014, the Palmers filed this suit against Gentek, alleging breach of warranty by failing to replace the defective siding. Gentek defended by arguing the Palmers were bound by the federal court's final class action settlement. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the North Dakota district court did not err in holding the Palmers were not bound by the federal district court’s final order and judgment approving a class action settlement. Furthermore, the Supreme Court concluded that the court erred in its award of attorney fees and in not ruling on Gentek’s objection to costs and disbursements. The order awarding attorney fees and taxation of costs and disbursements was reversed, however, and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Palmer, et al. v. Gentek Building Products, Inc." on Justia Law
Haley v. Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co.,
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork, alleging that Kolbe sold them defective windows that leak and rot. Plaintiffs brought common-law and statutory claims for breach of express and implied warranties, negligent design and manufacturing of the windows, negligent or fraudulent misrepresentations as to the condition of the windows, and unjust enrichment. The district court granted partial summary judgment in Kolbe’s favor on a number of claims, excluded plaintiffs’ experts, denied class certification, and found that plaintiffs’ individual claims could not survive without expert support. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Plaintiffs forfeited their arguments with respect to their experts’ qualifications under “Daubert.” Individual plaintiffs failed to establish that Kolbe’s alleged misrepresentation somehow caused them loss, given that their builders only used Kolbe windows. Though internal emails, service-request forms, and photos of rotting or leaking windows may suggest problems with Kolbe windows, that evidence did not link the problems to an underlying design defect, as opposed to other, external factors such as construction flaws or climate issues. View "Haley v. Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co.," on Justia Law
Nishimura v. Gentry Homes, Ltd.
Plaintiffs, individually and on behalf of all persons similarly situated, filed a first amended class action complaint alleging that Gentry Homes, Ltd. constructed Plaintiffs’ home without adequate high wind protection. Gentry filed a motion to compel arbitration pursuant to a provision in the Home Builder’s Limited Warranty (HBLW) between Gentry and Plaintiffs. The circuit court ordered Plaintiffs to arbitrate their claims against Gentry but severed and struck an arbitrator-selection provision for potential conflict of interest. The intermediate court of appeals concluded that the circuit court should have enforced the HBLW’s arbitrator-selection provision. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment and affirmed the circuit court orders, holding (1) the ICA erred in required a party challenging an arbitrator-selection provision to show evidence of “actual bias”; and (2) in resolving a challenge to an arbitrator-selection provision, the “fundamental fairness” standard should be applied, and under this standard, the arbitrator-selection provision was fundamentally unfair. View "Nishimura v. Gentry Homes, Ltd." on Justia Law
Oxbow Constr., LLC v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court
These consolidated writ petitions arose from a construction-defect action initiated by The Regent at Town Centre Homeowners’ Association against Oxbow Construction, LLC. Oxbow served as the general contractor of the Regent at Town Centre mixed-use community (Town Centre). The Association, on behalf of itself and the condominium unit-owners, served Oxbow with Nev. Rev. Stat. 40 notice, alleging construction defects in the common elements of the condominiums. The district court ultimately allowed claims seeking Chapter 40 remedies to proceed for alleged construction defects in limited common elements assigned to multiple units containing at least one “new residence.” Both parties filed writ petitions challenging the district court’s rulings. The Supreme Court denied both petitions, holding that the district court did not act arbitrarily or capriciously by (1) failing to perform a Nev. R. Civ. P. 23 class-action analysis; (2) determining that previously occupied units in Town Centre did not qualify for Chapter 40 remedies; and (3) concluding that the Association could pursue Chapter 40 remedies for construction defects in the common elements of buildings containing at least one previously unoccupied unit, i.e., a “new residence.” View "Oxbow Constr., LLC v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court" on Justia Law
Highland Homes Ltd. v. State
Two subcontractors employed by Petitioner, a homebuilder, asserted claims on behalf of a class of subcontractors whose pay Petitioner had docked when the subcontractors did not furnish proof of adequate general liability insurance coverage. The parties settled. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Petitioner would issue refunds checks, sending them to existing subcontractors as it would their paychecks or by mailing checks to the last known addresses of former subcontractors. The class representatives agreed, on behalf of the settlement class members, that refund checks not negotiated within ninety days of issuance would be void and that those and other unclaimed funds would be given to The Nature Conservancy as a cy pres award. The trial court approved the settlement and rendered final judgment accordingly. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Texas Unclaimed Property Act prohibited the imposition of a ninety-day deadline for negotiating settlement checks and the cy pres award. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Act did not apply in this case and that the judgment approving the settlement agreement was binding on all settlement class members. View "Highland Homes Ltd. v. State" on Justia Law
Beazer Homes Holding Corp. v. Dist. Court
Petitioner, a developer, helped construct a planned development (the "community"). The community HOA sued the developers, sellers, and builders of the development, including Petitioner, on behalf of the individual homeowners, alleging construction-defect-based claims for breach of implied and express warranties and negligence. Thereafter, the community HOA filed a motion for the district court to determine that its claims satisfied the class action requirements of Nev. R. Civ. P. 23. The district court concluded that the HOA did not need to satisfy the requirements of Rule 23 and thus allowed the action to proceed without conducting a class action analysis. Petitioner sought a writ of mandamus or prohibition, claiming that the district court acted arbitrarily and capriciously by refusing to undertake a class action analysis. The Supreme Court granted Petitioner's petition to the extent that it directed the district court to analyze the Rule 23 factors in this case. In so doing, the Court clarified the application of D.R. Horton v. District Court when a homeowners' association seeks to litigate construction-defect claims on behalf of its members under Nev. Rev. Stat. 116.3102(1)(d). View "Beazer Homes Holding Corp. v. Dist. Court " on Justia Law
State v. Surbaugh
This case involved the appeal of Petitioner of her sentence of life without mercy imposed in the circuit court by order, as recommended by the jury which found Petitioner guilty of first degree murder. Petitioner assigned four errors committed by the trial court, including the admission of the decedent's statements, failure to give a Harden instruction, failure to give a good character instruction, and the failure to suppress one of Petitioner's statements to the police. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court and remanded the case for a new trial, holding (1) the court did not err in admitting the statements of the decedent; (2) the court's decision to admit the statement was not an abuse of discretion; but (3) under the limited circumstances of this case, the court erred in failing to give a proper good character instruction. View "State v. Surbaugh" on Justia Law
Bolden v. Walsh Constr. Co.
Walsh is a nationwide builder; superintendents have discretion over hiring and pay of hourly workers. Walsh has rules against racial discrimination but superintendents are generally in charge. Plaintiffs worked for Walsh in 2002 and earlier and claimed that superintendents practiced, or tolerated, racial discrimination. Plaintiffs submitted a statistics indicating that black workers were less likely to work overtime; contended that some superintendents used words such as “nigger” or failed to prevent journeymen from doing so; and claimed that derogatory graffiti appeared in toilets or break sheds. Walsh claims that these were the work of subcontractors’ employees and that sites had different superintendents whose practices differed. The district court certified hostile work environment and overtime classes for the 262 Walsh sites in the Chicago area. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The 12 named plaintiffs cannot represent either class, since none worked for Walsh after 2002, but the classes extend into the indefinite future. The overtime class defined members as persons who did not earn more “because of their race.” Using a future decision on the merits to specify the scope of the class makes it impossible to determine who is in the class until the case ends. Plaintiffs may choose to propose site- or superintendent-specific classes. View "Bolden v. Walsh Constr. Co." on Justia Law
Edleson, et al. v. American Home Shield Corp., et al.
This appeal involved a fundamental misunderstanding about the enforcement of an injunction. The district court approved a settlement between defendant and a national class represented by plaintiffs, as part of its judgment, enjoined permanently "anyone claiming... for the benefit of" members of the class for prosecuting released claims. Movants opted out of the settlement of that class action, but continued to prosecute a putative class action against defendant in a California court. Instead of moving the district court to enforce its extant injunction, defendant then moved the district court to enter another injunction to bar movants from prosecuting their putative class action in the California court, under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. 2283. The district court granted that motion and entered a second injunction, which movants now challenge on appeal. The court held that because the district court failed to comply with "equity's time-honored procedures" to enforce an injunction, the second injunction against movants was vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Edleson, et al. v. American Home Shield Corp., et al." on Justia Law
Albano v. Shea Homes Ltd.
In this lawsuit, one of several suits alleging construction defects in homes located in a Shea Homes planned community, plaintiffs Albert Albano and other homeowners appealed to the circuit court from the district court's summary judgment dismissing their construction-defect claims against Shea Homes as barred by Arizona's statute of repose. The plaintiffs were three homeowners not allowed to join a previous putative class action against Shea Homes. On appeal, plaintiffs contended that the district court erred in failing to apply American Pipe v. Utah, which tolls the applicable statute of limitations for non-named class members until class certification is denied, to the period between the filing of the previous putative class action lawsuit and the denial of class certification. The Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction to answer the certified question of whether the American Pipe tolling rule would also apply to a statute of repose. The Court held that the class-action tolling doctrine does not apply to statutes of repose, and more specifically, to the statute of repose for construction defects. View "Albano v. Shea Homes Ltd." on Justia Law