Justia Construction Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Georgia

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The federal United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia certified questions of Georgia law to the Georgia Supreme Court regarding the scope of the “acceptance doctrine” in negligent construction tort cases. At issue was whether and how the acceptance doctrine applied as a defense against a claim brought by a subsequent purchaser of allegedly negligently constructed buildings. Thomaston Crossing, LLC (the “original owner”) entered into a construction contract with appellee Piedmont Construction Group, Inc. to build an apartment complex in Macon. Piedmont then retained two subcontractors – appellees Alan Frank Roofing Company and Triad Mechanical Company, Inc. – to construct the roof and the HVAC system, respectively. In 2014, the complex was completed, turned over to, and accepted by the original owner. In 2016, the original owner sold the apartment complex to appellant Thomaston Acquisition, LLC (“Thomaston”) pursuant to an “as is” agreement. Shortly after the sale, Thomaston allegedly discovered evidence that the roof and HVAC system had been negligently constructed. Thomaston filed suit against Piedmont, asserting a claim for negligent construction of the roof and HVAC system and a claim for breach of contract/implied warranty. Piedmont then filed a third-party complaint against Alan Frank Roofing and Triad Mechanical because both companies had allegedly agreed to indemnify Piedmont for loses arising out of their work. Each of the appellees later moved for summary judgment based in part on the defense that Thomaston’s negligent construction claim is barred by the acceptance doctrine. The Georgia Supreme Court concluded the acceptance doctrine applied to Thomaston’s claim, and that “readily observable upon reasonable inspection” referred to the original owner’s inspection. “Without any real claim of privity, Thomaston nevertheless contends that it should be treated like the original owner because it is the current owner-occupier of the property. But doing so would undermine the acceptance doctrine’s foundational purpose of shielding contractors from liability for injuries occurring after the owner has accepted the completed work, thereby assuming responsibility for future injuries. There is no ‘current owner-occupier’ or ‘subsequent purchaser’ exception to the acceptance doctrine, and the facts of this case do not compel us to recognize one here.” View "Thomaston Acquisition, LLC v. Piedmont Construction Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant Veterans Parkway Developers, LLC (“VPD”) appealed a Superior Court order granting injunctive relief and requiring an accounting in this suit by RMW Development Fund, II, LLC (“RMW”) stemming from VPD’s management of Veterans Parkway Apartments, LLC (the “Company”). The order at issue granted RMW an interlocutory injunction: (1) enjoining VPD from using funds in its possession or control to construct a second entrance to an apartment complex in Columbus (the “Property”), constructed and managed by the Company; (2) prohibiting VPD from using funds for any purpose other than the normal day-to-day expenses of the Property; and (3) requiring VPD to submit a monthly report of its expenses to the superior court, with copies to counsel for the parties. RMW filed suit against VPD alleging VPD’s breach of contract by its entering into an unauthorized management agreement and thereby paying an unauthorized management fee, and a claim for “promissory estoppel,” stemming from VPD’s alleged failure to use some of the Company’s funds for partial repayment of a development loan; RMW asked for VPD’s removal as manager of the Company and for the costs of litigation. Prior to the filing on the complaint, the Company had purchased a 60-foot strip of land for the purpose of creating a second entrance to the Property. At a hearing on the injunction, RMW argued that it could not undo any construction of the second entrance to the Property. VPD countered that RMW was, in reality, concerned about money being spent on the construction of the second entrance instead of being used to repay the loans made by RMW, and that any appropriate redress was monetary damages. Ultimately the injunction was granted and VPD appealed. The Supreme Court found after review of this matter that the trial court's injunction was not supported by the record, and that court abused its discretion in granting the injunction. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court and remanded this matter for further proceedings. View "Veterans Parkway Developers, LLC v. RMW Development Fund II, LLC" on Justia Law