Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Right to Jury Trial Applies to Dispute over Standing to Bring Construction Defect Claim

Stoffer v. Shappel Indus., Inc., No. A139385 (D1d5 Jan. 15, 2015)

Construction defect law has this rule that practitioners in the field sometimes call “standing, but which is really more of a claim accrual issue. Whoever owns a property when an injury due to a latent defect becomes manifest owns the claim. Later owners take the property subject to the defect and have no claim, unless there’s an assignment

Here, the facts about when the defect became known were disputed. The court resolved the dispute, in defendant’s favor, at a bench trial. But that was error. Although the ultimate determination of accrual might be a legal call for the judge to make, when disputed, the underlying fact issues are subject to the right to jury trial. 

Reversed.

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