December 13, 2012.
A California Appellate Court reversed a trial court’s ruling in favor of an architectural firm that had been sued by a homeowners association for damages resulting from alleged construction defects.
A homeowners association brought suit against the architects who were involved in various facets of the construction of the project including architecture, landscape architecture, civil, mechanical, structural, soils, and electrical engineering, in addition to construction administration and contract management for the developer of the project. The trial court dismissed the homeowners association’s case on the basis that the architects did not owe a duty of care to the association or its members, and therefore, could not be liable. The trial court took the view that liability on the part of the architect could not be premised on negligent design, and that the association needed to show that the architects had “control” in the construction process. The trial court concluded that so long as the final decision rested with the developer, the architect owed no duty to the future condominium owners.
The appellate court reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded the case for further trial court proceedings based on its findings that: (i) prior case decisions have articulated appropriate rationale for imposing third party tort liability on design professionals; and (ii) the plain language of Senate Bill No. 800 provides that a design professional who, as the result of a negligent act or omission, causes a violation of the construction standards for residential housing that are set forth in the Bill may be held liable to the ultimate purchasers for damages.
See case decision: Beacon_Residential_Community_Assn._v._Skidmore,_Owings_&_Merril,_LLP