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May 2018

San Diego Partner Geoff Lee Obtains Summary Adjudication on Behalf of Home Inspector Client

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani San Diego partner Geoffrey Lee obtained summary adjudication of a core claim in Los Angeles Superior Court.  The plaintiff, a home buyer, alleged that her purchased home contained significant foundational defects that could have been reported to her by a competent home inspector but were not. The firm’s client, a home inspector, conducted a reasonable inspection of the home but could only partially inspect the subfloor crawlspace because it was dangerously narrow.

The Superior Court granted the firm’s motion for summary adjudication, finding that the home inspector sufficiently discharged his duty to report on the dangerous conditions in the foundation that were visable. The court further ruled that the inspector had no legal duty to go into the crawlspace because of the dangers it presented. The court further sustained virtually all the firm’s evidentiary objections to the testimony offered by plaintiff’s expert witness, a seasoned expert on construction. 

This was an exceptional victory. The judge previously commented that motions for summary adjudication are rarely granted in cases of negligence because they usually turn on reasonableness standards determined by a jury or a contest between opposing expert witnesses determined by a jury. In this case, the evidence presented was overwhelming such that no reasonable juror could find in the plaintiff’s favor as concerned the foundation. 

The cost of repairing the foundation constituted the vast majority of damages. What little remains of the case is limited to a single broken drain pipe. The case is poised to settle or perhaps be reclassified for limited jurisdiction or small claims.

Geoff Lee