Justia Construction Law Opinion Summaries
New Riegel Local School District Board of Education v. Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc.
The Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the court of appeals in this construction dispute, holding that Ohio's construction statute of repose, Ohio Rev. Code 2305.131, applies to any cause of action, whether sounding in contract or tort, so long as the cause of action meets the requirements of the statute. Plaintiff filed this action against several defendants, companies involved in the design and construction of a public school building, alleging claims for breach of contract. Defendants argued that the statute of repose on section 2305.131 barred Plaintiff's claims because substantial completion of the project occurred more than ten years before the claims were filed. The trial court agreed and dismissed the claims as time barred. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that section 2305.131 does not apply to breach of contract claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 2305.131 applies to both contract and tort claims. View "New Riegel Local School District Board of Education v. Buehrer Group Architecture & Engineering, Inc." on Justia Law
HRC Two Rivers, LLC v. Aultco Construction, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing the third-party complaint filed by HRC Two Rivers LLC and HRC Cottages Inc. (collectively, the General Partners) against Aultco Construction Inc. as barred under the principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel, holding that a prior suit by the partnership entity precluded the General Partners from pursuing their claims against Aultco. The HRC entities were general partners of Two Rivers Apartments LLLP, which contracted with Aultco Construction Inc. to build an apartment building. In 2015, Two Rivers filed suit against Aultco for negligent construction resulting in mold in that apartments' attic. The case was litigated, settled, and dismissed with prejudice. The apartment tenants then filed suit against Two Rivers Apartments and the General Partners alleging that they were not given the required disclosure of mold testing and its results. The General Partners filed a third-party complaint against Aultco for contribution and indemnity. The district court granted Aultco's motion to dismiss on the grounds of either res judicata or collateral estoppel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the third-party complaint on the grounds of res judicata and collateral estoppel. View "HRC Two Rivers, LLC v. Aultco Construction, Inc." on Justia Law
Girolametti v. Michael Horton Associates, Inc.
In this construction dispute between a property owner and a general contractor the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court that, in the absence of clear evidence of contrary intent by the parties, subcontractors are presumptively in privity with the general contractor for purposes of res judicata as to the subcontractors' claims that did not participate in arbitration. These appeals arose from disputes regarding the construction of a store expansion. Plaintiffs, the store owners, and the general contractor, pursuant to a contract between them, entered arbitration to resolve various disputes regarding the project. None of the five subcontractors (Defendants) were formally a party to the arbitration. The arbitrator issued an award ordering Plaintiffs to pay the general contractor $508,597 for sums due. Plaintiffs subsequently filed suit seeking to recover from Defendants. Defendants moved for summary judgment based on res judicata. The trial court denied the motions on the grounds that Defendants were not parties to the arbitration and were not in privity with the general contractor. The appellate court reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendants were in privity with the general contractor for purposes of res judicata and that Plaintiffs' claims were barred because they could have been raising during the arbitration. View "Girolametti v. Michael Horton Associates, Inc." on Justia Law
Pavlicek v. American Steel Systems, Inc., et al.
JRC Construction, LLC, appealed a judgment entered after a jury awarded Larry Pavlicek $217,244.55 in damages against JRC. The jury found JRC breached a contract with Pavlicek relating to construction work performed by JRC. JRC argued the district court erred in denying its motion and renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law because Pavlicek failed to prove he had a contract with JRC. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Pavlicek v. American Steel Systems, Inc., et al." on Justia Law
Commonwealth ex rel. Beshear v. Bevin
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court upholding the validity of the Governor exercising its authority under Ky. Rev. Stat. 12.028 in issuing Executive Order (EO) 2017-364, holding that there was no statutory or constitutional infirmity with the Governor's use of the executive order to affect a temporary government reorganization on the facts before the Court. EO 2017-364 made several changes to various state education boards. The Attorney General filed suit challenging the validity of the executive order. The circuit court upheld the order. The Supreme Court granted discretionary review and affirmed, holding that EO 2017-364 does not constitute an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power, nor did the Governor's government reorganization constitute an unconstitutional infringement on the judiciary's power. View "Commonwealth ex rel. Beshear v. Bevin" on Justia Law
Hanover Resources, LLC v. LML Properties, LLC
The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's order granting summary judgment to LML Properties, LLC on Hanover Resources, LLC's complaint alleging breach of contract against LML for enforcement of $4.7 million in mechanic's liens on the basis that the mechanic's liens were invalid under West Virginia law, holding that the mechanic's liens at issue were invalid. The liens in this case were filed under W. Va. Code 38-2-31 and -32 by Hanover, a provider of coal mining services, against the fee interest of a mineral estate partially owned by LML. The circuit court concluded that the liens were invalid and granted summary judgment to LML. The Supreme Court affirmed after considering the undisputed facts in the form of stipulations by the parties regarding their contractual responsibilities along with the framework in the mechanic's lien statutes and relevant case law, holding that the circuit court did not err in granting LML's motion for summary judgment. View "Hanover Resources, LLC v. LML Properties, LLC" on Justia Law
Posted in: Construction Law, Contracts, Real Estate & Property Law, Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
New Jersey v. Hyland
On a night in March 2016, defendant Susan Hyland was driving an automobile, and struck and killed sixteen-year-old Q.T., then fled the scene. She was indicted on three counts. The Prosecutor’s Office recommended against defendant’s admission into Drug Court because defendant left the scene of a fatal accident and failed to help Q.T., she was not the type of non-violent offender intended for Drug Court and would be a “danger to the community.” Defendant pled guilty to all three charges in the indictment. The trial judge analyzed the factors required to impose a drug court sentence, found defendant was likely to respond affirmatively to Drug Court probation, and sentenced her to concurrent five-year special probation Drug Court terms. The State appealed. The Appellate Division found no neither an illegal sentence nor statutory authorization, and dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The New Jersey Supreme Court concluded the State may appeal a Drug Court sentence only when the sentencing judge makes a plainly mistaken, non-discretionary, non-factual finding under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14(a). Because application of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14(a)(9) required fact-finding and an exercise of the sentencing judge’s discretion, a sentence based on application of that factor was not appealable as an illegal sentence. View "New Jersey v. Hyland" on Justia Law
McMillin Homes Construction v. Natl. Fire & Marine Ins. Co.
A general contractor was covered as an additional insured on a commercial general liability (CGL) policy issued to its roofing subcontractor. The insurer refused to defend the general contractor after it was sued by homeowners for construction defects concerning roofing, prompting this lawsuit. After a bench trial, the trial court concluded the insurer owed no duty to defend. It believed the exclusion in the additional insured endorsement for damage to "property in the care, custody or control of the additional insured" precluded any duty to defend the general contractor in construction defect litigation. The general contractor disputed the insurer's interpretation of the policy and contended there was a duty to defend. After review, the Court of Appeal agreed and reversed judgment: “the facts indicate only shared control between the general contractor and its roofing subcontractor. Because the insurer did not prove coverage for the underlying construction defect litigation was impossible, it owed the general contractor a duty to defend the homeowner claim.” View "McMillin Homes Construction v. Natl. Fire & Marine Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Bacon Construction Co. v. Arbella Protection Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Insurer and Plaintiff's claims alleging that Insurer was contractually obligated to provide insurance coverage to Plaintiff, which was listed as an additional issued on the relevant insurance policy, holding that Insurer had no duty to defend Plaintiff. Plaintiff, the general contractor for a construction project, subcontracted with Insured for structural work on the project. Insured purchased a commercial general liability insurance policy from Insurer, which named Plaintiff as an additional insured. The policy provided for defense and indemnification costs to Insured for its work on the project. Insured's employee (Employee), who sustained injuries while working on the construction project site, filed a complaint against Plaintiff, alleging that Plaintiff's negligent acts were the proximate cause of his injuries. Plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that Insurer was contractually obligated to indemnify and defend Plaintiff as an additional insured relative to the Employee action. The superior court justice granted summary judgment for Insurer. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Employee's complaint was devoid of any allegations that brought the underlying case within the coverage of the policy, and therefore, Insurer had no duty to defend Plaintiff. View "Bacon Construction Co. v. Arbella Protection Insurance Co." on Justia Law
State ex rel. Vanderra Resources, LLC v. Honorable David W. Hummel
The Supreme Court denied the request for extraordinary relief sought by Vanderra Resources, LLC asserting that the circuit court's denial of Vanderra's motion for summary judgment on Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC's claims against it was clearly erroneous and an abuse of the court's power, holding that because the denial of summary judgment was an interlocutory ruling, there was no error. Vanderra was a reclamation contractor hired by Chesapeake to implement a stabilization plan at one of Chesapeake's shale drill pads. While Verderra implemented the plan, earth movement and landslides occurred. Chesapeake filed suit against Vanderra to recover its costs incurred in repairing the collapsed drill pad. Vanderra filed a motion for summary judgment, which the circuit court denied on the grounds that genuine issues of material fact existed. Vanderra then brought this action for a writ of prohibition, or alternatively mandamus, arguing that the circuit court lacked any factual or evidentiary findings. The Supreme Court denied Vanderra's request, holding that the circuit court did not exceed its legitimate powers when it denied summary judgment. View "State ex rel. Vanderra Resources, LLC v. Honorable David W. Hummel" on Justia Law