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Successful RRA Motion for Summary Judgment

Congratulations to Partner Tyler D. Offenhauser and Senior Associate Kenneth L. Mariboho, II, for successfully arguing a Motion for Summary Judgment which extricated their client, a General Contractor, from a $2.8 Million Construction Defect lawsuit.

In this matter, Plaintiff hired a General Contractor to build a 9,000+ square foot, hillside mansion in Malibu, California, that was for his own personal use. Construction of this palatial estate was completed in 2008 when Plaintiff noticed signs of water intrusion. Plaintiff filed suit under the Right to Repair Act (“RRA”) for construction defects prior to the expiration of the 10 year Statute of Repose. Based on Plaintiff’s admissions, we established that his common law construction defect claims had expired (under common law, owners have three years from discovery of latent defects to file tort related claims, and four years to file contract related claims). Plaintiff felt comfortable admitting his knowledge of the latent defects because the RRA does not limit the statute of limitations based on an owner’s knowledge of the defects. The RRA allows owners to bring actions up to 10 years after substantial completion of the home. Additionally, builders typically want the RRA to apply because it provides them with the opportunity to repair the defects before a complaint can be filed. Plaintiff stipulated on the record that he was litigating under the RRA and would not be amending the Complaint.

Spotting an opportunity, we prepared the Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds that the RRA does not apply because the undisputed material facts established that neither the subject construction agreement nor the subject home fall within the RRA. This pure legal argument was based on the statutory interpretation of the RRA and had not been tested in the courts. We successfully argued that the RRA does not apply to this case and the Court agreed. The Court found:

  1. The RRA did not apply to the construction of Plaintiff’s home;
  2. No “Purchase Agreement” was entered into under Civil Code §938;
  3. Defendant is not a “builder” under the RRA, (Civil Code §911); and,
  4. Plaintiff cannot amend his Complaint as he elected to proceed under the RRA.

Judgment was entered in favor of our client and against Plaintiff, and our client is now entitled to costs!  BWB&O’s client is ecstatic about the result and our team’s handling of the matter.