A new ruling coming out of the Superior Court of San Bernardino places the burden of establishing compliance with “fix-it” pre-litigation procedures on the homeowner or homeowners associations rather than the builder.
In August 2009, the Superior Court of San Bernardino, Calif., issued the ruling in the case of Standard Pacific Corporation v. The Superior Court of San Bernardino. The outcome of this case means the responsibility of any pre-litigation compliance does not fall on the builder. The court ruled in favor of the builder, and stated that the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing compliance with “fix-it” pre-litigation procedures in cases pertaining to California Civil Code 910.
“This ruling is especially impactful for builders because it clarifies that the homeowner or homeowners association bears the responsibility for showing the pre-litigation process was followed, which can save builders time and money,” said Keith Koeller, founding partner at Koeller, Nebeker, Carlson & Haluck
Several homeowners filed the action May 5th, 2008, based on problems related to the construction of homes located within one housing development. Homeowners claimed the builder was liable for their products and for general negligence. The court found that to be in compliance with the California Civil Code 910, Standard Pacific Corporation must be given opportunity to repair before litigation.
“In the future this precedent will create a barrier for those who want to circumvent the statute, and go to court prematurely without doing the due diligence of the fix-it compliance process,” said Koeller.