Articles Posted in Construction Law

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Because the warranty of workmanship and habitability is imputed into every residential construction contract, it is a term of the contract, and therefore, the successful party on a claim for breach of the warranty qualifies for an attorney-fee award under a controlling contractual fee provision or, barring that, Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-341.01. Defendants contracted with Plaintiff to build a basement at their home. Defendants refused to pay to the full contract amount after the work was completed, and Plaintiff sued for the unpaid contract amount. Defendants counterclaimed for breach of the implied warranty of workmanship and habitability. The jury found in Defendants’ favor on their claim for breach of the implied warranty. The trial court awarded Defendants attorney fees pursuant to a contractual fee provision and section 12-341.01. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment, holding that the implied warranty was a term of the contract, and as the successful party in the claim to enforce the warranty, Defendants were entitled to their reasonable attorney fees. View "Sirrah Enterprises, LLC v. Wunderlich" on Justia Law

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Developer obtained a loan from Bank to construct a commercial and condominium project. Bank secured its loan with two deeds of trust, the first of which attached before construction began on the project. Developer failed to pay the general contractor (Contractor) several million dollars for the project, and after Developer had sold many of the units, Contractor recorded a mechanics’ lien against the project. Contractor then sought to foreclose on its lien against Developer, the unit owners, and their lenders. The Owners and Lenders contested the foreclosure, arguing that they were equitably subrogated to Bank’s first deed of trust and thus had priority over Contractor’s mechanics’ lien. The trial court concluded that Contractor’s lien had priority. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Ariz. Rev. Stat. 33-992(A), which gives mechanics’ liens priority over liens recorded after construction begins on real property, does not preclude assignment by equitable subrogation of lien that attached before construction began on the project; and (2) when a single mortgage burdens multiple parcels, a third party may be entitled to equitable subrogation when that party has paid a pro rata amount of the obligation and obtained a full release of the parcel at issue from the mortgage. Remanded. View "Weitz Co., LLC v. Heth" on Justia Law

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Defendant constructed a home that it sold to its initial purchaser. The initial purchaser, in turn, sold the home to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs later learned the home's hillside retaining wall and home site had been constructed in a dangerously defective manner. Plaintiffs requested that Defendant cover the cost of repair, but Defendant claimed it was no longer responsible for any construction defects. Plaintiffs then filed an action against Defendant to force Defendant to cover the cost of repair. The trial court dismissed all of the claims, concluding, among other things, that Plaintiffs' negligence claims were barred by Arizona's economic loss doctrine. The court of appeals remanded for resolution of Plaintiffs' various negligence claims, concluding that, because Plaintiffs had no contract with Defendant, the economic loss doctrine did not bar their tort claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the economic loss doctrine did not bar Plaintiffs' negligence claims to recover damages resulting from the construction defects. Remanded. View "Sullivan v. Pulte Home Corp." on Justia Law

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In this lawsuit, one of several suits alleging construction defects in homes located in a Shea Homes planned community, plaintiffs Albert Albano and other homeowners appealed to the circuit court from the district court's summary judgment dismissing their construction-defect claims against Shea Homes as barred by Arizona's statute of repose. The plaintiffs were three homeowners not allowed to join a previous putative class action against Shea Homes. On appeal, plaintiffs contended that the district court erred in failing to apply American Pipe v. Utah, which tolls the applicable statute of limitations for non-named class members until class certification is denied, to the period between the filing of the previous putative class action lawsuit and the denial of class certification. The Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction to answer the certified question of whether the American Pipe tolling rule would also apply to a statute of repose. The Court held that the class-action tolling doctrine does not apply to statutes of repose, and more specifically, to the statute of repose for construction defects. View "Albano v. Shea Homes Ltd." on Justia Law