Alaska Supreme Court Dismisses Claims of Uncooperative Pro Se Litigant in Defect Case
August 11, 2011 — CDJ STAFF
The Alaska Supreme Court found that in the case of Khalsa v. Chose, Ms. Khalsa? failure to cooperate with the courts has obligated them to dismiss her claims against Mr. Chose. Ms. Khalsa bought a home kit from Mandala Custom Homes of Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Mr. Chose, one of the owners of Mandala was paid by Ms. Khalsa to supervise assembly in Fairbanks. After construction, the roof developed leaks. Ms. Khalsa stated that when climbing a ladder to inspect a skylight leak, she fell and injured herself.
During the subsequent suit, Khalsa proved uncooperative. She skipped a pretrial conference. She attended a hearing that set discovery deadlines but then did not comply with discovery, including her failure to provide medical records documenting her injuries. She eventually said that she would only be able to travel from Arizona to Alaska if the defendants paid for her and her caretaker?s expenses.
When finally deposed, Khalsa terminated the deposition after five minutes, alleging the deposition was “intentionally designed to cause [her] to endure further emotional distress, due to the psychological trauma . . . that was caused or contributed to by the defendants.”
Eventually, the lower court sanctioned her twice. In July, 2008, the court concluded that her failure to provide medical records required dismissal of her injury lawsuit. In October of that year, the court dismissed all remaining claims due to her “pattern of excuses and long delays in providing information for discovery culminating in her refusal to participate in her deposition by the defendants.” Further, Khalsa has argued that the trial court displayed “prejudice and bias toward the pro se plaintiff.”
The Alaska Supreme Court rejected all of Ms. Khalsa?s claims, dismissing her case. They did, however, note that she has thirty days to file an appeal.
Read the court’s decision…
Rooftop Owners Sue Cubs Consultant for Alleged False Statements
January 24, 2014 — Beverley BevenFlorez-CDJ STAFF
A disagreement over signage potentially blocking rooftop owner’s views has stalled Wrigley Field’s proposed $300 million renovation, reported the Chicago Tribune. However, a recently lawsuit filed between the two entities regarded allegedly false statements made by Marc Ganic, a Chicago sports business consultant, published in the Chicago Sun-Times: “In the story, Ganis is quoted as saying the rooftop clubs were ‘stealing’ the Cubs product for their own profit,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
The rooftop owners claimed in the suit that “they have a contractual arrangement with the team that allows them to sell tickets to people who want bird’s-eye views of the game.” The Chicago Tribune attempted to contact Ganis for comment, but he “did not return several messages.”
The rooftop owners and the Cubs entered into a “20-year agreement in 2004 in which the rooftop owners pay the Cubs 17 percent of the team's yearly profits in exchange for unobstructed views into the ballpark,” according to ESPN. “The Cubs dispute that notion, however, contending the unobstructed views were guaranteed through the landmarking of the bleachers not with the agreement they have with the rooftop owners.”
Business president Crane Kenney explained to ESPN that the city council amended the landmarking rule for the field: “[The council has] now recognized the outfield is not a historic feature. And above a 10-foot level we can have signage. That was the big win last summer, among many. That's what the rooftops would contest.”
According to ESPN the Cubs will not start the renovation project until they have an agreement with the rooftop owners “that includes a guarantee not to sue the Cubs for breach of contract, which would delay construction.”
Read the full story at the Chicago Tribune...
Read the full story at ESPN...
Florida Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Homeowners Unaware of Construction Defects and Lack of Permits
December 09, 2011 — CDJ STAFF
The Florida Court of Appeals has ruled that a homeowner is not liable for defects in unpermitted alterations, reversing a lower court’s decision in Jensen v. Bailey. The Jensens sold their house to the Baileys. During the sale, the Jensens filled out a property disclosure statement, checking “no” to a question about “any improvement or additions to the property, whether by your or by others that have been constructed in violation of building codes or without necessary permits.”
After moving in, the Baileys discovered several problems with the home. One involved a defective sewer connection leading to repeated backups. The Baileys also found problems with remodeling the Jensens had done in the kitchen, master bath, and bedroom. The remodeling work was not done with required permits nor was it up to code.
The court noted that an earlier case, Johnson v. Davis, established four criteria: “the seller of a home must have knowledge of a defect in the property; the defect must materially affect the value of the property; the defect must not be readily observable and must be unknown to the buyer; and the buyer must establish that the seller failed to disclose the defect to the buyer.” The court found that the first of these criteria was crucial to determining the case.
In the Johnson ruling, the then Chief Justice dissented, fearing that the courts “would ultimately construe Johnson’s requirement of actual knowledge to permit a finding of liability based on constructive knowledge,” quoting Justice Boyd, “a rule of constructive knowledge will develop based on the reasoning that if the seller did not know of the defect, he should have known about it before attempting to sell the property.” The Appeals Court concluded that the lower court hit this point in ruling on Jensen v. Bailey.
Citing other Florida cases, the court noted that the Johnson rule does require “proof of the seller’s actual knowledge of the defect.” The court cited a case in which it was concluded that the seller “should have known” that there was circumstantial evidence was that the seller did know about the defects, as the seller had been involved in the construction of the home.
In the case of the Jensens, the lower court concluded that they did not know that the work was defective, nor did they know that they were obligated to obtain permits for it. The Appeals Court found this one fact sufficient to reverse the decision and remand the case to the lower court for a final judgment in favor of the Jensens.
Read the court’s decision…
Ohio Does Not Permit Retroactive Application of Statute of Repose
October 08, 2014 — Beverley BevenFlorez-CDJ STAFF
Don Gregory of Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter (published in Association of Corporate Counsel) reported that while Ohio currently has a statute of repose, the Supreme Court of Ohio recently ruled in a case where the development was built in 1990 but the defects weren’t discovered until 2003 that the statute of repose did not apply since “Ohio had no enforceable statute of repose in 2003 (it had been declared unconstitutional).”
Gregory stated that “[t]his case means that some construction defect claims, by condo associations or others, may survive even though construction was completed more than a decade ago.”
Read the full story...
Florida Courts Say that Developers Are Responsible for Flooding
July 31, 2013 — CDJ STAFF
The Florida Supreme Court recently handed down a decision that developers can be held responsible if problems with infrastructure lead to damage to homes. Aaron Kase, writing on Lawyers.com, reviews the case, noting that the court said that “habitability of a home is impacted by stagnant standing water and the erosion of soil upon which the home is constructed. One need not wait until floodwaters inundate the home or the erosion swallows the residential structure to find protection.”
Kase notes that a trial court “sided with the developers’ argument that because the water infrastructure didn’t immediately support the houses, implied warranties of fitness and habitability shouldn’t apply and they shouldn’t be liable.” This was overturned at the district court, with the Supreme Court upholding the district court decision. Lisa Wilcox of Wilcox Law notes that “the Supreme Court determined that the warranty of habitability should be applied to protect home buyers from defects in the construction of these essential services even though they are not part of a home’s completed structure.”
Read the full story...
Water Seepage, Ensuing Mold Damage Covered by Homeowner's Policy
August 13, 2014 — Tred R. Eyerly – Insurance Law Hawaii
The appellate court reversed the trial court's determination that the policy covered only mold damage, but not damage caused by water seepage. Henderson v. Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co., 2014 Ga. App. LEXIS 539 (Ga. Ct. App. July 16, 2014).
The homeowner's policy covered losses caused by constant seepage or leakage of water or the presence of condensation or moisture over a period of time. The insureds also paid for additional coverage for "ensuing mold . . . caused by or resulting from" one of the covered risks, including water seepage.
Ms. Henderson discovered a puddle of water in her kitchen and contacted Georgia Farm Bureau. The insurer's contractor tore out a section of the floor, but found no other problems of water seepage. Later, the Hendersons removed another part of the floor and discovered standing water and black mold underneath. The Hendersons had to vacate their house for one year. Read the full story...
Reprinted courtesy of Tred R. Eyerly, Insurance Law Hawaii
Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Court Orders House to be Demolished or Relocated
April 26, 2011 — Beverley BevenFlorezCDJ STAFF
Decision Affirmed in Central Arkansas Foundation Homes, LLC v. Rebecca Choate
The Arkansas Court of Appeals affirmed the decision by the trial court in Central Arkansas Foundation Homes, LLC v. Rebecca Choate. In the trial case, Central Arkansas Foundation Homes (CAFH) sought payment for a home built for Choate, while Choate alleged that the builders committed multiple construction defects including using the wrong foundation materials and positioning the house in the wrong direction.
After the house was built, CAFH contacted Choate regarding payment, however, Choate alleged that the finished product did not match the contract. “ After CAFH completed construction, it obtained permanent home financing for Choate and tried to contact her to close the transaction. Choate did not respond until October 2005, when she sent CAFH a list of alleged construction defects, including that the house was facing in the wrong direction; that it was not built on a slab; and that the fireplace, garbage disposal, driveway, and storage area were missing. CAFH replied to Choate in writing, telling her that she had until January 6, 2006, to close on the house or CAFH would sell it. The correspondence enclosed worksheets showing that the amount Choate would owe at closing exceeded $94,000, which included interest that had accrued on the as-yet unpaid construction loan.”
Initially, the court found in favor of CAFH. “On April 18, 2007, Choate’s attorney withdrew from representing her. Soon thereafter, CAFH’s attorney asked the court to set a final hearing on the case. The attorney purportedly sent Choate a letter by regular mail on May 15, 2007, advising her that the case was set for trial on July 9, 2007. Choate, however, did not appear. CAFH did appear, and its general manager, John Oldner, testified to events leading up to the case and the amount of damages claimed. According to Oldner, the interest on the construction loan had accrued to the point that CAFH now sought $104,965.88 from Choate. The court found in favor of CAFH and entered judgment for that amount, plus attorney fees, on July 18, 2007. The court ruled that CAFH could sell the house and either remit any excess to Choate or look to Choate for the deficiency if the sales price did not cover the judgment.”
However, Choate successfully argued that she did not receive notice of the trial. A new trial was ordered, and the outcome was quite different. “On June 6, 2008, the circuit court entered judgment for Choate, ruling that the house was not in substantial compliance with the parties’ contract and that the contract should be rescinded. The court found that the house suffered from numerous construction defects, that the contract contemplated a slab rather than a concrete-pier foundation, and that CAFH ignored Choate’s complaints that the house was facing the wrong way. The judgment directed CAFH to hold Choate harmless on the construction loan, to deed Choate’s two acres back to her, and to remove the house from Choate’s property.”
The Court of Appeals “found that Choate would be unjustly enriched by retaining the benefit of the septic systems and utility lines that CAFH installed on her land. The court therefore awarded $5340 to CAFH as a quantum-meruit recovery for the value of that work. CAFH contends that the award is not sufficient, but we see no clear error.” In the end, the Court of Appeals provided this reason for declining to reverse the trial court’s decision: “The court in this case apparently concluded that the house constructed by CAFH was so fundamentally at odds with Choate’s contractual expectations that she was not unjustly enriched and should simply be, as nearly as possible, returned to the status quo ante. Accordingly, the court ordered the house removed from her property and permitted CAFH to either relocate the house or salvage the house’s materials and unused appliances. We decline to reverse the court’s weighing of the equities in this manner.”
Read the court’s decision…
New York Restaurant and Bar Fire Caused by Electric Defect
February 04, 2014 — Beverley BevenFlorez-CDJ STAFF
A fire at McGill’s Restaurant and Bar located in Schuyler, New York, resulted in “a total loss” according to the Little Fall Times. Schuyler Fire Chief Don Kane told the Little Fall Times, “no one was inside the building at the time of the fire, as the bar had closed at 2:30 a.m.” and the fire was reported at 3:52 a.m. Weather hindered the firefighters abilities to deal with the situation as “a small squall moved through the area.”
An investigation concluded that an “electrical malfunction is to blame,” reported the Utica Observer-Dispatch. The Herkimer County Office of Emergency Services stated that the “fire was caused by an electrical defect within the base of the front wall.”
The restaurant owner, who leased the building, “did not carry fire loss insurance for his business,” though the “building owner was insured,” according to the Utica Observer-Dispatch.
Read the full story at The Little Falls Times...
Read the full story at The Utica Observer-Dispatch...