Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Don't Mess with . . . California Subcontractors

Vita Planning & Landscape Architecture, Inc., v. HKS Architects, Inc., No. A141010 (D1d5 Sept. 25, 2015)

The trial court in this construction dispute dismissed under Code of Civil Procedure § 410.30, finding that Texas courts were a more appropriate forum because the contract between the parties contained Texas forum selection and choice-of-law clauses. But that gets sideways with § 410.42, which prevents out-of-state contractors from requiring California subcontractors to litigate certain contract disputes in the contractor’s home state when the work is done in California. Defendant contended, and the trial court agreed, that the relationship at issue here—between an general architecture firm and landscape architect—was not the kind of contractor/subcontractor relationship addressed by § 410.42. The Legislature, however, intended to broadly protect in-state subcontractors. So the fact that the sub was providing design services, as opposed to more typical construction stuff, didn’t make a difference. The Texas forum clause thus was unenforceable under § 410.42.


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