Justia Construction Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
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Defendant Department of General Services and real party Joint Committee on Rules of the California State Senate and Assembly (collectively DGS) prepared an environmental impact report (EIR) to determine the environmental effects of a project they proposed which would significantly affect the California State Capitol Building in Sacramento (Historic Capitol). DGS would demolish the State Capitol Building Annex attached to the Historic Capitol and replace it with a larger new annex building, construct an underground visitor center attached to the Historic Capitol’s west side, and construct an underground parking garage east of the new Annex. Plaintiffs Save Our Capitol! and Save the Capitol, Save the Trees filed petitions for writ of mandate contending the EIR did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The trial court denied the petitions. Plaintiffs appealed the judgment, arguing: (1) the EIR lacked a stable project description; (2) the EIR did not adequately analyze and mitigate the project’s impacts on cultural resources, biological resources, aesthetics, traffic, and utilities and service systems; (3) the EIR’s analysis of alternatives to the project was legally deficient; and (4) DGS violated CEQA by not recirculating the EIR a second time before certifying it. The Court of Appeal reversed in part, finding the EIR’s project description, analyses of historical resources and aesthetics, and analysis of alternatives did not comply with CEQA. Judgment was affirmed in all other respects. View "Save Our Capitol! v. Dept. of General Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in favor of Plaintiff in this case arising from a construction contract, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his assignments of error on appeal.Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the trial justice (1) did not err in applying the doctrine of merger by deed; (2) did not make a mistake in calculating damages; (3) did not err in denying Defendant's claim that Plaintiff breached the parties' contract; (4) did not err in finding that the implied warranty of habitability did not apply to this case; and (5) properly found that the subcontractors' mechanics' liens were assignable to Plaintiff. View "Premier Land Development v. Kishfy" on Justia Law

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Justin Shafer appealed a district court judgment confirming an arbitration award against Diamond Development & Custom Homes, L.L.C. Shafer argued the district court erred by failing to increase the amount of damages he was awarded. He also argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should narrowly expand the standard for reviewing an arbitration award. The Court declined Shafer’s request to expand the standard of review, and concluded the district court did not err in confirming the arbitration award. View "Shafer v. Scarborough, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in three cases consolidated for appeal involving foreclosures of construction liens under the Nebraska Construction Lien Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. 52-125 to 52-159, holding that summary judgment was proper but that an award of attorney fees was not.At issue in these appeals was whether equitable considerations made summary judgment improper, whether prejudgment interest was authorized in each case, and whether attorney fees were recoverable. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) summary judgment was proper because there was no dispute that the supplier complied with the provisions of the Nebraska Construction Lien Act; (2) an award of prejudgment interest was authorized because the claims were liquidated; and (3) under the circumstances, there was no statutory authorization for an award of attorney fees. View "Echo Group, Inc. v. Tradesmen International" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order entered by the district court denying Skyline Consulting Group's motion to vacate and set aside bond substitution and reinstate construction lien, holding that the district court erred in concluding that Skyline had waived its right to challenge the substitute bond.In this dispute between two subcontractors, Mortensen Woodwork petitioned the district court to substitute Skyline's construction lien against certain property with the intent to pursue foreclosure. Skyline named SP Hotel Owner in the lien. Mortensen then secured a bond from a surety company for 150 percent of the amount Skyline claimed and filed a petition to substitute the bond for the lien. The district court did so. Skyline requested that the district court reinstate its lien because Mortensen was not authorized to substitute a bond. The district court denied the request. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Skyline did not waive its right to challenge the substitute bond in a separate arbitration proceeding; and (2) the district court erred in concluding that Montana law authorized Mortensen, a subcontractor, to substitute a bond for Skyline's construction lien. View "Skyline Consulting Group v. Mortensen Woodwork, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment, decree of foreclosure, and order of sale by the district court, and the orders and actions contained within these documents, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Thermal Design, Inc. filed a complaint to foreclose its construction lien against Mark and Pam Duffy and Central Copters, Inc. The complaint also asserted claims against TNT Building Systems. A jury found that TNT, acting as an agent of Central Copters, entered into a contract with Thermal Design for the insulation system, and both TNT and Central Copters were jointly and severally liable for breaching the contract with Thermal Design. As to a crossclaim between TNT and Central Copters, the jury found that both parties breached their agreement but that only TNT incurred damages. The district court entered a final order restating that, as a matter of law, Thermal Design had a valid construction lien attaching to both the Duffys’ real property and Central Copters’ building that should be foreclosed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion in the proceedings below. View "Thermal Design, Inc. v. Thorson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that public policy prohibits an agreement between a builder-vendor and a homebuyer to disclaim and waive the warranty of workmanship and habitability implied in every contract entered into between the buyer-vendor and homebuyer and to replace it with an express warranty.Plaintiff entered into a preprinted purchase agreement with M & RC II, LLC to buy a home that M & RC II's affiliate, Scott Homes Development Company, would build. Plaintiff later sued M & RC II and Scott Homes (together, Defendants) for breach of the implied warranty of workmanship and habitability. Defendant moved for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff had waived the implied warranty per the purchase agreement. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the public policy underlying the implied warranty of workmanship and habitability clearly outweighed enforcement of the waiver of that warranty in the purchase agreement. View "Zambrano v. M & RC II LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court granting the motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by defendant Harnett County and dismissing the claims brought by plaintiff PF Development Group and all but one of the claims asserted by the remaining plaintiffs, holding that remand was required.At issue in this case was an ordinance adopted by the County that required residential property developers to pay one-time water and sewer capacity use fees associated with the lots they planned to develop as a precondition for obtaining the County's concurrence in the developer's application for the issuance of required water and sewer permits. In seeking relief from the trial court's orders, Plaintiffs argued on appeal that genuine issues of material fact existed. The court of appeals disagreed and affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the "capacity use" fees at issue were "monetary exactions" subject to constitutional scrutiny and therefore must satisfy the "essential nexus" and "rough proportionality" test to avoid being treated as takings of Plaintiffs' property. View "Anderson Creek Partners, L.P. v. County of Harnett" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Lynn Gerlach and Lola Seals appealed the judgment entered in their action against defendant K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons at Beaumont, LLC under the Right to Repair Act (the Act), concerning alleged construction defects. After review, the Court of Appeal affirmed and published its opinion to clarify: (1) a roof is a manufactured product within the meaning of California Civil Code section 896(g)(3)(A) only if the roof is completely manufactured offsite; and (2) to prove a roof defect claim under subdivision (a)(4) or (g)(11) of section 896, a plaintiff must prove that water intrusion has actually occurred or roofing material has actually fallen from the roof. View "Gerlach v. K. Hovnanian's Four Seasons at Beaumont, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approving the application of Crowned Ridge Wind II, LLC to construct a large wind energy farm in northeast South Dakota, holding that the PUC followed the applicable statutory directives in granting the construction permit and properly determined that Crowned Ridge satisfied its burden of proof under S.D. Codified Laws 49-41B-22.After a contested hearing, the PUC issued a written decision approving the permit. Two individuals who lived in rural areas near the project and had intervened to oppose Crowned Ridge's application sought review. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the PUC did not err when it determined that Crowned Ridge met its burden of proof to comply with all applicable laws and rules; and (2) the PUC's findings were not clearly erroneous as they related to crowned Ridge's burden under S.D. Codified Laws 49-41B-22(3). View "Christenson v. Crowned Ridge Wind, LLC" on Justia Law