California Constructor, a bimonthly magazine for members of the Associated General Contractors of California, published an article by Gordon & Rees partner Rosemary K. Carson and senior counsel Christine D. Barker of Orange County in its May-June 2013 edition.
In the article, titled “Defending Against a High-Stakes, Bet-the-Company, Multi-Million Dollar Property Damage Claim,” Carson and Barker discuss what general contractors need to know when faced with property damage claims.
The authors write that general contractors should notify their general liability insurance carriers, which will allow them to choose legal counsel and/or assign defense counsel. Counsel then determines if others should share in the liability for owners’ alleged damages. Generally, the first targets are the subcontractors, who are responsible for performing the allegedly defective work, but design professionals may also be liable.
Carson and Barker discuss California courts’ interpretations of the Spearin doctrine, finding that a contractor is not liable for construction defects resulting from insufficient owner-furnished plans and specifications, and whether a contractor should file a counterclaim against an owner for failing to disclose superior knowledge about the project. They also examine Beacon Residential Community Assoc. v. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP, which expanded the scope of third parties to whom a design professional – in this case an architect -- owes a duty of care.
Carson represents owners, developers, contractors, and subcontractors in public and private projects. She counsels clients through every aspect from contracting to litigation, including early assessment and minimization of liability exposure and risk; cost-effective dispute resolution; project counseling to work through claims and disputed change order requests; strategy development for crafting a winning defense or prosecution; negotiating payment on projects with distressed parties, funding or bankrupt entities; and litigating cases through resolution via mediation, arbitration, or trial. She is experienced in multiparty litigation, which enables her to act as a liaison between clients, opposing counsel, public entities and officials, various experts, and joint defense or prosecution teams.
Barker represents owners, developers, subcontractors and design professionals in construction litigation, including creating and implementing discovery plans and trial strategy, filing and defending against mechanic's liens and stop notices, evaluating and resolving defect and delay claims, and making resolution recommendations. She also drafts and negotiates construction contracts, bid documents and protests, and change order requests and helps clients navigate California Subcontractor Listing Laws.
Click here to read the California Constructor article.