Justia Construction Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in South Carolina Supreme Court
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In May 2002, Respondent Eagle Windows & Doors, Inc.’s predecessor purchased Eagle & Taylor Company’s assets (Eagle I) from Eagle I's bankruptcy estate. In 2000, homeowners constructed a residence using defective windows manufactured by Eagle I. In 2006, homeowners settled their construction claims against the Appellant contractor. The contractor and its insurer (Appellants) then brought this contribution suit against Respondent as successor to Eagle I. The circuit court granted respondent's motion to dismiss, holding (1) dismissal was required under Rule 12(b)(6) because a bankruptcy order expressly precluded any state law successor liability actions since the sale was "free and clear" under 11 U.S.C. 363(f) of the Bankruptcy Code; and (2) that dismissal was proper under Rule 12(b)(1) of the state rules of civil procedure because the bankruptcy court in Ohio which issued the Eagle I order retained jurisdiction over any claims against respondent for successor liability. Upon review, the Supreme Court found that Appellants' claim did not arise under either the settlement agreement or the order, nor did their claim relate to Eagle I. Rather, it was predicated upon Respondent's post-sale conduct which, Appellants contended, exposed it to successor liability under South Carolina state law. The Supreme Court concluded the court erred in dismissing this suit, and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Nationwide Mutual v. Eagle Windows" on Justia Law

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Appellant Don Phillips was the sole shareholder and officer in Crystal Lake Land Developers, Inc.(CLLD). In 1979, CLLD began developing Crystal Pines, and deeded all the roads in Crystal Pines to the Crystal Lake Road Company. In the mid 1980s, the Road Company operated as a simple homeowners association, but eventually changed its name to Crystal Pines Homeowners Association (HOA). CLLD attempted to execute a second deed to reflect the change of the Road Companyâs name to the HOA. The second deed stated that the HOA would be responsible for fixing the roads in Crystal Pines. In 1980, CLLD constructed a boat ramp that many of the homeowners used regularly. In 2004, CLLD gated and locked the boat ramp, and later conveyed title of the ramp to his son. The son then transferred title of the ramp to the Crystal Pines Yacht Club, which continued to keep the ramp locked from the residents. The HOA filed suit against Phillips, CLLD and the Yacht Club over who was responsible for maintaining Crystal Pinesâ roads, and for access to the boat ramp. The master-in-equity ruled in favor of the HOA, and Phillips, CLLD and the Yacht Club appealed. The Supreme Court found the deed in question unambiguous pertaining to who was responsible for fixing the roads. The Court found that CLLD and Phillips are not responsible for maintaining all of Crystal Pinesâ roads, only those roads they damage as a result of their development efforts. However, the Court found the mater did not err in finding that the HOA had established a prescriptive easement in its use of the boat ramp. The Court affirmed part and reversed part of the lower courtâs decision, and remanded the case for further proceedings on that which it reversed.

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Gregory and Kerry Brown appealed the circuit court's confirmation of an arbitration award that was granted to their former general contractor C-Sculptures. C-Sculptures built the Browns' house. The Browns claimed C-Sculptures was precluded from enforcing a contract between them because the contractor's license limited the contractor to work totaling $100,000. C-Sculptures' final invoice totaled over $800,000, and when the Browns refused to pay, the contractor placed a lien on their property for the unpaid amount. The arbitrator awarded C-Sculptures the money it was owed, and the Browns appealed the arbitrator's award to the circuit court, arguing that the statutory limit on the contractor's license limited payment to $100,000. On review, the Supreme Court found that the arbitrator followed the statutory scheme to make his determination in favor of the contractor. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the lower court's confirmation of the arbitrator's award.