Justia Construction Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Regalado v. Callaghan
Jeffrey Callaghan hired Dunn's Designer Pools (Dunn's), a landscape and pool contractor, to build a pool and spa at his home. Victor Regalado, a Dunn's employee, suffered injuries when he installed a propane fueled pool heater on Callaghan's property. Regalado sued Callaghan for negligence and premises liability. The jury found Callaghan was negligent; the trial court ultimately entered judgment against Callaghan in the amount of approximately $3 million. Callaghan appealed, arguing: (1) the court erred by failing to instruct the jury that a person who hires an independent contractor was not liable for injuries to the contractor's employee unless the hirer's negligent exercise of retained control "affirmatively contributed" to the employee's injury; (2) insufficient evidence supported the jury's verdicts on both premises liability and negligence; (3) Regalado's counsel committed misconduct by urging the jury to base its verdict on protecting the community; (4) the trial court erred by permitting Regalado to recover past wages because Dunn's had continued to pay his salary after the accident; and (5) the jury's award of future medical costs had to be reduced because it was not supported by substantial evidence. Rejecting all of Callaghan's arguments, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment. View "Regalado v. Callaghan" on Justia Law
Aluma Systems Concrete Constr. of Cal. v. Nibbi Bros., Inc.
Concrete Construction (Contractor) was sued by employees of Nibbi Concrete, who were injured after a shoring system designed by Contractor collapsed. Subsequently, Contractor sued Employer for indemnification based on a specific provision in the parties’ contract. The trial court dismissed, relying on the allegations in the underlying lawsuit that set forth claims only against Contractor and not against Employer. The court of appeal reversed, stating that the allegations in the underlying lawsuit are not determinative of Contractor’s claim for indemnity. View "Aluma Systems Concrete Constr. of Cal. v. Nibbi Bros., Inc." on Justia Law
Arthur v. State, Dep’t of Hawaiian Home Lands
Plaintiffs brought a wrongful death action against Kamehameha Investment Corporation (KIC), the developer of a hillside area, and Sato and Associates, Inc. and Daniel Miyasato (collectively, Sato), the civil engineer. KIC tendered defense against Plaintiffs’ claims to Sato pursuant to a hold harmless clause in a project consultant agreement between Sato and KIC. KIC filed a cross-claim against Sato, alleging that Sato had agreed to defend and indemnify KIC against Plaintiffs’ claims. The trial court granted KIC’s motion for partial summary judgment against Sato. Relying on Pancakes of Hawaii, Inc. v. Pomare Properties Corp., the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that Sato had a contractual duty to defend KIC in the wrongful death action. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment, holding (1) Haw. Rev. Stat. 431:10-222 renders invalid any provision in a construction contract requiring the promisor to defend “the promisee against liability for bodily injury to persons or damage to property caused by or resulting from the sole negligence of willful misconduct of the promisee, the promisee’s agent or employees, or indemnitee”; (2) Pancakes does not apply to defense provisions in construction contracts; and (3) the scope of a promisor’s duty to defend imposed by a construction contract is determined at the end of litigation. Remanded. View "Arthur v. State, Dep’t of Hawaiian Home Lands" on Justia Law
Tiger v. Verdigris Valley Electric Cooperative
In 2008, a field engineer for Verdigris Valley Electric Cooperative (Employer) met with a contract electrician for Integrated Service Company LLC (INSERV) in Catoosa, concerning the installation of additional underground electrical service. They discussed the location of the additional service to the building and decided to use an existing junction box which the engineer observed was surrounded by a yellow metal barricade. He would later note: "I normally recommend that our members [customers] install a protective post an [sic] each corner of a pad mounted device in high traffic areas such as the INSERV plant, to help protect from getting ran [sic] over by vehicles or other equipment. I would never suggest having a barrier of any kind in front of any opening or door on VVEC equipment." Employer's work crew, consisting of Employer was dispatched to install additional underground electrical service to INSERV. The four-man crew consisted of Jones, Jackson, Day, and Tiger. Jones and Jackson were journeymen electricians and Jones was the foreman. Day and Jason Tiger were apprentices. Tiger had been in the journeyman apprentice program for approximately nine months of a four-year program. At the time of his death, Tiger had been certified only in the climbing school portion of his journeyman training. Day had worked for Employer only one month. When the crew arrived at the work site, they found the junction box surrounded by a yellow painted steel barricade, erected presumably to protect it from being struck by vehicles or trailers. The record did not establish who erected or owned the barricade, but Employer owned the junction box and associated electrical equipment. Affixed to the junction box was a warning concerning hazardous voltage and underground power cables and a notice from Employer. Despite this, Tiger was electrocuted attempting to make a connection to the junction box. His widow sued Employer and INSERV pursuant to "Parret v. UNICCO Service Co.," (127 P.3d 572), asserting that Employer knew that injury or death was substantially certain to result from the task Tiger and his coworkers were directed to complete and the conditions in which they were required to work. The District Court denied the employer's motion for summary judgment but granted a second motion for summary judgment after additional discovery. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed after its review of the trial court record, finding material issues of fact remained in dispute. View "Tiger v. Verdigris Valley Electric Cooperative" on Justia Law
Stolz v. J & B Steel Erectors, Inc.
Daniel Stolz worked for a subcontractor on a construction project when he was injured in an accident on the job site. Prior to the accident, Messer had obtained authority from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to act as the self-insuring employer on the project, which gave Messer responsibility for providing workers’ compensation coverage for its own employees as well as the employees of enrolled subcontractors on the project. Stolz brought negligence claims against Messer Construction, the general contractor, and several subcontractors. A federal district court granted summary judgment to Messer as the self-insuring employer but denied summary judgment to the subcontractors, concluding that an enrolled subcontractor on a self-insured construction project is immune from claims made by its own employees but not from those made by employees of other enrolled subcontractors. The federal court then certified a question of state law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered that subcontractors enrolled in a self-insured construction project plan are immune from tort claims for workplace injuries from employees of other enrolled subcontractors on the same project. View "Stolz v. J & B Steel Erectors, Inc." on Justia Law
William H. Gordon Assocs. v. Heritage Fellowship, United Church of Christ
Church entered into an engineering contract with Civil Engineer (Engineer) to design site plans for a rain tank system. Church entered into a contract with General Contractor (GC) for the construction of the rain tank. After GC installed the rain tank, the tank collapsed. Engineer designed and GC installed a different storm water management system, but Church refused to pay GC for installing the new storm water system. GC sued Church for payment, and Church counterclaimed against GC for breach of contract. Church filed a third-party claim against Engineer for repair and replacement costs it was found to owe GC because of the rain tank collapse. Church filed a separate suit against Engineer. The circuit court concluded that the rain tank collapse was the failure of Engineer, entered judgment for GC on its claims against Church, and awarded Church damages for delay and other damages associated with removing and replacing the rain tank. Engineer appealed. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding Church’s claims timely and Engineer liable on Church’s breach of contract claims; and (2) reversed the circuit court’s judgment granting Church damages in the form of construction loan interest that was not incurred as a result of the breach of contract. Remanded. View "William H. Gordon Assocs. v. Heritage Fellowship, United Church of Christ" on Justia Law
Henderson Square Condo. Ass’n v. LAB Townhomes, LLC
In 2011, Henderson Square Condominium Association sued, alleging: breach of the implied warranty of habitability, fraud, negligence, breach of the Chicago Municipal Code’s prohibition against misrepresenting material facts in marketing and selling real estate, and breach of a fiduciary duty. The defendants were developers that entered into a contract with the city for a mixed use project, the Lincoln-Belmont-Ashland Redevelopment Project. Sales in the project had begun in 1996. The trial court dismissed, finding that plaintiffs failed to adequately plead the Chicago Municipal Code violation and breach of fiduciary duty and that counts were time-barred under the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/13-214). The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. A condominium association generally has standing to pursue claims that affect the unit owners or the common elements. A question of fact remains as to whether defendants’ failure to speak about construction deficiencies or to adequately fund reserves, coupled with earlier alleged misrepresentations, amounted to fraudulent concealment for purposes of exceptions to the limitation and repose periods. It is possible that minor repairs, along with the limited nature of water infiltration, reasonably delayed plaintiffs’ hiring of professional contractors to open the wall and discover latent defects. The date when plaintiffs reasonably should have known that an injury occurred and that it was wrongfully caused was a question of fact. View "Henderson Square Condo. Ass'n v. LAB Townhomes, LLC" on Justia Law
Rogers v. Wright
Leon and Brenda Rogers purchased a home from Jeffrey Wright. The Rogers subsequently discovered several defects in the home and sued Wright, JWright Development, LLC, and JWright Companies, Inc. (collectively, the JWright defendants), alleging breach of contract, negligence, breach of warranty, and negligent and intentional misrepresentation. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the JWright defendants. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order on the negligence claim but otherwise affirmed, holding (1) issues of material fact existed regarding whether the builder of the Rogers’ home breached its legal duty to build the home in a reasonable and workmanlike manner; and (2) the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the JWright defendants on the remainder of the Rogers’ claims. View "Rogers v. Wright" on Justia Law
Stribling Investments, LLC v. Mike Rozier Construction Company, Inc.
Stribling Investments, LLC, sued Mike Rozier Construction Company, Inc., alleging negligence and negligent construction. The trial court granted Mike Rozier Construction’s Motion for Summary Judgment and dismissed Stribling Investments’ Complaint on the ground that Mike Rozier Construction did not owe a duty to Stribling Investments. Stribling Investments appeals. Holding that the trial court should have considered whether the "builder-vendor" rule applied to Mike Rozier Construction Company, the Supreme Court reversed. View "Stribling Investments, LLC v. Mike Rozier Construction Company, Inc." on Justia Law
328 Barry Avenue v. Nolan Props. Group, LLC
Appellant used Respondent as the general contractor for the construction of a building. When the building began having problems with water intrusion, Appellant brought suit claiming that Respondent acted negligently in its duties as general contractor. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Respondent, concluding that the action was untimely under the two-year statute of limitations for improvements to real property in Minn. Stat. 541.051(1)(a). The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the court of appeals correctly found that the plain language of section 541.051(1) does not require that construction be substantially complete to start the running of the statute of limitations; but (2) there remained a genuine issue of material fact as to when Appellant discovered its injury, and therefore, the district court erred in granting summary judgment. Remanded. View "328 Barry Avenue v. Nolan Props. Group, LLC" on Justia Law