In Tadych v. Noble Ridge Constr., Inc., No. 100049-9, 2022 Wash. LEXIS 545, the Supreme Court of Washington (Supreme Court) considered whether the lower court erred in enforcing a one-year accelerated limitations period clause in a construction contract. The Supreme Court considered the extent to which the provision hindered the plaintiffs’ statutory rights – as set forth in Wash. Rev. Code § 4.16.310 – which provides homeowners with a six-year repose period for construction defect claims. The court found that the contractual provision’s shortening of the time period from six years to one year was a gross deprivation of the plaintiffs’ statutory rights and was unfairly one-sided in favor of the defendant. As such, the court held that the provision was substantively unconscionable and, thus, unenforceable.
In Cont’l Homes of Tex., L.P. v. Perez, No. 04-21-00396-CV, 2022 Tex. App. LEXIS 7691, the Court of Appeals of Texas (Appellate Court) considered whether the lower court erred in refusing to enforce an arbitration clause in a construction contract between the parties. The Appellate Court considered the costs of the arbitration forum required by the contract in the context of the plaintiffs’ monthly household income. The court also compared the arbitration cost to the estimated cost of litigating the dispute. The court held that the arbitration clause was substantively unconscionable on the grounds that the arbitration costs were not affordable for the plaintiffs and not an “adequate and accessible substitute to litigation.” The Appellate Court affirmed the lower court’s decision denying the defendant’s motion to compel arbitration. Continue reading
In Zambrano v. M & RC II LLC, et al., 2022 Ariz. LEXIS 309, the Supreme Court of Arizona held that a homebuilder and homebuyer could not waive or disclaim the implied warranty of workmanship and habitability. While the court would normally enforce a contract between two parties – even if one side made a “bad deal” – they will not do so if the contract’s terms are against public policy. Continue reading
In Bain v. Airoom, LLC, No. 1-21-001, 2022 Ill. App. LEXIS 241, the Appellate Court of Illinois (Appellate Court) considered whether the lower court erred in enforcing an arbitration clause in a construction contract between the parties and, as a result, dismissing the plaintiff’s lawsuit. The Appellate Court found that even if the arbitration clause was enforceable, the appropriate action would have been for the court to stay the lawsuit, as opposed to dismissing the case entirely. The Appellate Court then considered the language of the arbitration clause and found that several provisions were substantively unconscionable, which rendered the entire arbitration clause unenforceable. The Appellate Court reversed the lower court’s decision compelling arbitration and reinstated the plaintiff’s complaint. Continue reading
Many courts enforce forum selection clauses in contracts between parties. In W. Bay Plaza Condo. Ass’n v. Sika Corp., No. 3D21-1834, 2022 Fla. App. LEXIS 1637 (W. Bay Plaza), the Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District (Court of Appeal) answered the question of whether a mandatory forum selection clause in a manufacturer’s warranty was enforceable as to a condominium association, who was a non-signatory. The trial court enforced the forum selection clause – calling for litigation in New Jersey rather than Florida – and the Court of Appeal affirmed the ruling. Continue reading
In 2700 Bohn Motor, LLC v. F.H. Myers Constr. Corp., No. 2021-CA-0671, 2022 La. App. LEXIS 651 (Bohn Motor), the Court of Appeals of Louisiana for the Fourth Circuit (Court of Appeals) considered whether a subrogation waiver in an AIA construction contract was enforceable and, if so, whether the waiver also protected subcontractors that were not signatories to the contract. The lower court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment based on the subrogation waiver in the construction contract. The plaintiffs appealed the decision, arguing that the subrogation waiver violated Louisiana’s anti-indemnification statute. The plaintiffs also argued that even if enforceable, the subrogation waiver did not apply to the defendant subcontractors since they were not parties to the contract. The Court of Appeals ultimately held that the subrogation waiver did not violate the anti-indemnification statute because the waiver did not shift liability, which the statute was intended to prevent. In addition, the Court of Appeals found that the contract sufficiently satisfied the required elements for the defendant subcontractors to qualify as third-party beneficiaries of the contract.
Subrogation professionals have always been looking for ways to defeat onerous waiver of subrogation provisions in contracts signed by insureds. However, even when contracts are unsigned, if there is intent when the contract is made – usually long before a loss occurs – a waiver of subrogation can doom what otherwise may have been a strong case. The Superior Court of Delaware considered such a scenario to determine whether a waiver of subrogation provision applied to a multimillion-dollar subrogation case.
In Wascher v. ABC Ins. Co., No. 2020AP1961, 2022 Wisc. App. LEXIS 110 (Feb. 9, 2022), the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin considered whether the plaintiffs were barred — by Wisconsin’s 10-year statute of repose for improvements to real property claims and the six-year statute of limitations for breach of contract claims — from bringing a lawsuit against the original builders of their home. The plaintiffs alleged negligence and breach of contract against the masonry subcontractors, asserting that they improperly installed the exterior stone cladding. The court found that the plaintiffs’ claims against the original builders were time-barred. Continue reading
In Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co. v. Fowlkes Plumbing., L.L.C., No. 2019-FC-10285-SCT, 2020 Miss. LEXIS 44, the Supreme Court of Mississippi considered whether the subrogation waiver in the General Conditions of the Construction Contract, American Institute of Architects (AIA) form A201-2007, applied to claims for damages to property unrelated to the construction work. Siding with the majority of jurisdictions that have addressed this issue, the court interpreted the AIA subrogation waiver to apply to any property damage, whether or not related to the construction work (i.e. the Work), if the property insurance covering the non-Work property also insured the construction work. Continue reading
In Edifice Constr. Co., Inc. v. Arrow Insulation, Inc., No. 79407-8-1, 2020 Wash App. LEXIS 359, the Court of Appeals of Washington considered whether subcontractors could be bound by the arbitration clause in a contract between an owner and a general contractor. In determining that the subcontractors were not bound by the arbitration clause in the prime contract, the court found that the general contractor failed to meet its burden of showing that the subcontractors were on notice of the specific terms of the prime contract. Continue reading