Construction Litigation

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Skane Mills has been successfully defending general contractors, subcontractors and construction managers for many years. In particular, we represent all subcontractor trades and are knowledgeable how each trade affects the other in the construction of residential and commercial properties. We have handled cases that involve tract homes, high-end single family homes, apartment buildings, condominiums, mixed used buildings and small and large commercial properties. 

We successfully defended a waterproofing subcontractor during a nearly 70 day binding arbitration proceeding conducted over a 15-month period of time between 2015-2016. The arbitration was one phase of a large commercial litigation involving a multi-building apartment complex. The claims asserted by plaintiff and the general contractor included the allegation that the majority of the elevated private balconies were exhibiting deck leaks. Our client installed the waterproofing assemblies on the elevated private balconies. The plaintiff’s scope of repair called for the deck assemblies to be removed and replaced. The lowest allocation to our client was nearly $2 million. The arbitrator’s award stated that with respect to our client, there was no evidence presented which demonstrated any failure of our client to meet the standard of care or to perform the contract requirements. Therefore, our client was ruled to have zero responsibility for any defects shown to exist at the project.

We handled a contentious construction defect case concerning a $20 million single family custom home. We represented four contractors. For three of our clients we obtained dismissals in exchange for waivers of costs, including the window manufacturer. For the fourth client, we settled for only $1,200. Our clients were the very few in the case who were dismissed for waivers of costs.

We represented a painting subcontractor in a construction defect action involving a 112-unit condominium complex in Alameda County. The general contractor brought our client into the case on a cross-complaint for express indemnity based on an onerous indemnity provision contained in the parties’ subcontract. The provision provided not only for “Type I” indemnity, but also for an immediate obligation to pay all of the general contractor’s defense costs for the entire action (including claims unrelated to our client’s work). The general contractor demanded in excess of $1.2 million from our client. Through targeted discovery, we uncovered key information to support a motion for summary judgment to rescind the subcontract, and the onerous indemnity provision therein, based on procedural and substantive unconscionability theories. Shortly after we filed our client’s summary judgment motion, we received a call from the general contractor’s counsel wanting to discuss settlement. We quickly obtained a favorable settlement for less than 4% of the general contractor’s demand.

We obtained a defense verdict in a multi-million dollar construction defect case venued in Orange County. The case involved a homeowner, the general subcontractor, the architect and ten subcontractors, including our client. Our client performed the roofing and waterproofing work at the custom residential project, valued at over $8 million. The alleged defects against our client focused on defective roof work and water intrusion from the decks. The plaintiff asked for $1 million in damages and allocated in his closing argument the largest percentage to our client.  Following the defense verdict for our client, we sought our costs from the plaintiff.