Justia Construction Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
BrunoBuilt, Inc. v. Erstad Architects, PA
The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review centered on a residence in the Boise foothills that was damaged by a landslide, which ultimately prevented the builder from obtaining a certificate of occupancy. BrunoBuilt, Inc., the general contractor of the project, sued multiple parties, including Erstad Architects, PA, the architectural firm for the project, Andrew Erstad, the principal architect, and Cheryl Pearse, the project manager from Erstad Architects, PA (collectively, Defendants), for professional negligence in connection with work completed for construction of the residence. Defendants successfully moved for summary judgment on the basis that the two-year statute of limitations in Idaho Code section 5-219(4) barred BrunoBuilt’s claim. Two years after the district court issued its memorandum decision and order granting summary judgment, BrunoBuilt moved the district court for reconsideration, citing new evidence and arguments. The district court denied the motion for reconsideration, concluding it was “untimely, lacking in diligence, and improper.” BrunoBuilt then appealed, challenging the decision of the district court on summary judgment and additionally asserting that the court erred in an earlier order deconsolidating the cases with other defendants. Prior to oral argument, Defendants moved the Supreme Court to sanction counsel for BrunoBuilt pursuant to Idaho Appellate Rule 11.2 for non-disclosure of material procedural facts in its opening brief. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision granting summary judgment against BrunoBuilt, and agreed that the conduct of BrunoBuilt’s attorney on appeal ran afoul of Rule 11.2, and imposed sanctions. View "BrunoBuilt, Inc. v. Erstad Architects, PA" on Justia Law
Brunobuilt, Inc. v. Briggs Engineering, Inc.
BrunoBuilt, Inc., was constructing a custom home on a vacant lot in 2016 when a landslide occurred beneath the Terra Nativa subdivision in the Boise foothills. Following damage to the lot, BrunoBuilt filed a professional negligence suit against numerous engineers and engineering firms involved in the construction of the subdivision, arguing that they failed to identify preexisting landslide conditions and other geological circumstances that made residential development unsafe at this site. In the fall of 2018, BrunoBuilt discovered additional damage to the finished custom home itself. It then brought suit against additional defendants, including Briggs Engineering, Inc., and Erstad Architects. Briggs Engineering moved for summary judgment, which the district court granted. The court concluded that BrunoBuilt’s action was time barred by the two-year statute of limitations under Idaho Code section 5-219(4). BrunoBuilt appealed this decision, arguing that the malpractice claim did not begin to accrue until there was damage to the custom home, rather than just the land. To this the Idaho Supreme Court disagreed with BrunoBuilt’s analysis and affirmed the district court that BrunoBuilt’s claim was time barred. View "Brunobuilt, Inc. v. Briggs Engineering, Inc." on Justia Law
Walker v. Meyer
Brent Meyer appealed pro se a district court’s judgment granting Adam Walker’s breach of contract claim against him. Walker hired Meyer to assist him with the demolition and remodel of a home he had purchased in Soda Springs, Idaho. Walker alleged that in June 2018, the parties entered into an agreement in which Walker agreed to pay Meyer $18,000 in exchange for Meyer’s labor on the home. This contract was subsequently modified by the parties as Meyer performed work on other areas of the home not covered by the contract and Walker paid Meyer more money than provided in the original contract – roughly $60,000. On October 16, 2018, Walker fired Meyer from the job, alleging the labor was not up to industry standards and did not add value to the home. Walker hired another contractor to fix or redo the work completed by Meyer and his subcontractors. Meyer argued the district court erred in concluding he was not a “construction professional” as defined by Idaho’s Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act (“NORA”), Idaho Code sections 6-2501–04, and claimed the case should have been dismissed because Walker failed to comply with the notice requirement of NORA. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Walker v. Meyer" on Justia Law
Posted in: Civil Procedure, Construction Law, Contracts, Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
McCarthy Corporation v. Stark Investment Group
Craig Stark entered into a contract with McCarthy Corporation to construct a storage facility for recreational vehicles and boats. The relationship turned sour after McCarthy sent Stark an invoice for work Stark believed he had already paid for in full. After the parties were unable to resolve their dispute, Stark terminated McCarthy’s contract. McCarthy then filed a lien against Stark’s property and brought suit for breach of contract and to foreclose its lien. Stark, Stark Investment Group, and U.S. Bank, Stark’s construction lender on the project, counterclaimed for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraudulent misrepresentation, slander of title by the recording of an unjust lien, and breach of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act (“ICPA”). After a bench trial, the district court largely agreed with Stark's counterclaims and dismissed McCarthy's complaint. McCarthy appealed the district court’s findings, damages award, and attorney fees award. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's holdings that McCarthy breached the contract between the parties and McCarthy violated the ICPA. View "McCarthy Corporation v. Stark Investment Group" on Justia Law
Brunobuilt, Inc. v. Strata, Inc.
BrunoBuilt, Inc. appealed a district court’s dismissal of its claims against Strata, Inc., Chris Comstock, H. Robert Howard, and Michael Woodworth (collectively, “the Strata Defendants”). BrunoBuilt filed a professional negligence action against the Strata Defendants alleging that when the Strata Defendants rendered engineering services for the Terra Nativa Subdivision they failed to identify a pre-existing landslide and negligently failed to recommend construction of infrastructure that would stabilize and prevent further landslides within the Subdivision. A home BrunoBuilt had contracted to build and the lot on which the dwelling was located were allegedly damaged as a result. The district court dismissed BrunoBuilt’s claims after holding that the parties had entered into an enforceable settlement agreement, or alternatively, that summary judgment was warranted in favor of the Strata Defendants based on the economic loss rule. After review of the situation, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court judgment because the parties entered into an enforceable settlement agreement. View "Brunobuilt, Inc. v. Strata, Inc." on Justia Law
Valiant Idaho v. JV, LLC
This case stems from the foreclosure and lien priority case arising out of the failed Idaho Club golf course and residential housing development project. The developer, Pend Oreille Bonner Development, LLC (“POBD”), took out several loans on the real property, agreed to promissory notes, and mortgaged the Idaho Club real property with several lenders, including JV, LLC and, as relevant to this appeal, three other lenders: RE Loans (“REL”), LLC, Pensco Trust Co., and Mortgage Fund ’08 LLC (“MF08”) (collectively, the three “lenders”). JV’s interest in the Idaho Club arose out of a mortgage (the “JV Mortgage”) it recorded against five parcels on the Idaho Club property that JV sold to POBD. POBD ultimately defaulted on its obligations on the promissory notes associated with the mortgages. In addition to defaulting on the notes, POBD failed to pay property taxes to Bonner County for several years and failed to pay various mechanics and materialmen, one of which was Genesis Golf Builders, Inc. (“Genesis”). JV appealed the district court's conclusion that Valiant Idaho, LLC (“Valiant”) held a priority position in the mortgages on the development. JV also appealed the district court’s award of costs against it, as well as a judgment by the district court that awarded sanctions against JV and its attorney. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, finding JV's redemption deed did not subordinate it to Bonner County's right, title, claim and interested based on a tax deed. The Supreme Court also found the district court abused its discretion in the way that it applied the formula announced in Valiant Idaho, LLC v. North Idaho Resorts, LLC (No. 44583, 2018 WL 4927560) to arrive at its costs award. View "Valiant Idaho v. JV, LLC" on Justia Law
Davison v. DeBest Plumbing
Scott and Anne Davison appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of DeBest Plumbing (DeBest). In 2012, the Davisons hired Gould Custom Builders, Inc. (Gould) to perform an extensive remodel of their vacation home in Idaho. Gould hired DeBest as the plumbing subcontractor. A bathtub installed by DeBest developed a leak that caused significant damage before it was noticed and repaired. The Davisons sought damages based upon the contract between Gould and DeBest and for negligence. The district court granted DeBest’s motion for summary judgment on the contract claims because the Davisons were not in privity of contract with DeBest. Later, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of DeBest on the negligence claim, finding that the Davisons had failed to comply with the requirements of the Notice and Opportunity to Repair Act (NORA), Idaho Code sections 6-2501–2504. On appeal, the Davisons argued they satisfied the requirements of NORA because DeBest received actual notice of the claim and sent a representative to inspect the damage. Finding that the Davidsons satisfied the requirements of NORA when they gave DeBest actual notice, and DeBest had an opportunity to inspect the defect, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting DeBest's motion for summary judgment on the Davidsons' negligence claim. The Supreme Court reversed as to negligence, but affirmed the district court in all other respects. View "Davison v. DeBest Plumbing" on Justia Law
Fisher v. Garrison Property & Casualty Ins. Co.
Plaintiff’s action to recover under an insurance policy for the loss of her house caused when a renter (who had an option to purchase) demolished it. The trial court determined the insurance policy at issue excluded for such a loss. Within two months of renting the property, plaintiff learned the renter demolished the house. The renter agreed to rebuild a house on the remaining foundation. The renter started, but did not finish, rebuilding the house. Plaintiff thereafter made a claim on her insurance policy. The Idaho Supreme Court found after review of this matter, that the words in an insurance policy were to be given the meaning applied by lay people in daily usage. One such clause implicated the intentional destruction of the house as compared to accidental loss or inadequate remodeling. The renter’s actions in demolishing plaintiff’s house down to the foundation would not be considered by lay people as the “remodeling” of the house. He did not make alterations to an existing structure; he demolished that structure. There was no house left to remodel. Plaintiff had authorized the renter to perform some remodeling, such as installing new flooring, countertops, light fixtures, paint and other cosmetic improvements, but there was no evidence in the record that he did any remodeling at all, much less that the direct cause of the loss of the Plaintiff’s house was caused by any remodeling that had been done. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of the insurance company. View "Fisher v. Garrison Property & Casualty Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Kelly v. Wagner
This appeal arose from a lawsuit brought by a contractor, Michael Kelly against his former client, Pamela Wagner, alleging nonpayment of amounts due to him for the performance of construction work. The district court found in favor of Kelly and awarded him a total judgment of $13,762.54 ($4,694.64 of damages and $9,067.90 of prejudgment interest). On appeal, Wagner argued that the district court erred in finding that Kelly was owed for the construction work. She further argued that the district court erred in awarding prejudgment interest to Kelly. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Kelly v. Wagner" on Justia Law
Posted in: Construction Law, Contracts, Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
Burns Concrete, Inc v. Teton County
The issue in this appeal centered on whether a force majeure clause in a written contract between the county and a developer did not apply to the developer’s failure to obtain zoning approval in order to construct the cement plant required in the agreement. After review of the contract and the clause at issue here, the Supreme Court held that the clause was broad enough to apply. Accordingly, the Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Burns Concrete, Inc v. Teton County" on Justia Law