Key Decisions

December 2012- A Homeowner Seeking To Bring A Construction Defects Claim

(filed under: Key Decisions | December 19, 2012)

A Homeowner Seeking To Bring A Construction Defects Claim Must First Serve A Notice Of The Claim

Darling v. Superior Court
(Cal. Ct. of App., 1st Dist.), filed November 16, 2012

Armundo Darling and other homeowners sued Western Pacific Housing as a result of alleged construction defects in homes they purchased.  Western Pacific Housing petitioned the trial court for an order staying the lawsuit.  It argued that under the “Right to Repair Act,” commonly referred to as “SB 800,” embodied in Civil Code section 895, et seq., the homeowners were required to complete the statutory prelitigation procedure of Section 910, et seq., before they could bring a civil action.  The homeowners opposed the stay, arguing that Western Pacific Housing could not obtain a stay because it had failed to respond to the homeowners’ request for documents.  The trial court found that no response to the document request was necessary because the homeowners had not served their notice of a claim as required by Section 910.  As such, it granted the stay.

The Court of Appeal concurred.  It noted that the question of whether a homeowner must serve a notice of a construction defect claim under Section 910(a) before a builder is obligated to respond to a request for documents was one of first impression.

The court held that under the statutory scheme a notice of claim was required to start the process, and that since the homeowners had not served one, the builder was not required to provide documents, and, as a result, the builder was entitled to a stay until all procedures had been performed by the parties.