Consumer Attorney Thomas E. Miller Available as Media Commentator On Supreme Court Decision Limiting Homeowners to Sue for Negligence

Agrees With Chief Justice and Urges Consumer Protection Immediately

Dec 06, 2000, 00:00 ET from The Miller Law Firm

    NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Dec. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Thomas E. Miller, Newport
 Beach construction defect attorney and the author of "Handling Construction
 Defect Claims -- Western States," declares that the California Supreme Court
 Decision Monday, which said that homeowners can no longer sue builders for
 negligence in California unless construction defects have caused property
 damage or personal injury, is anti-consumer.
     Pure economic damage includes the amount and costs to repair items, such
 as lack of firewalls, improper shear walls, faulty electrical wiring and the
 like, that will now not be recoverable by homeowners unless a fire, earthquake
 or other catastrophic event occurred causing the building to suffer
 significant physical damage or the occupants to sustain serious injury or even
     Consumer Groups will be forced to propose counter legislation as soon as
 possible.  "Homeowners associations have a duty to keep the homeowners in the
 associations safe and repair discovered defects.  When there are no safeguards
 from the court, associations will be forced to incur costs for repairing known
 defects on their own or be liable for harm caused to homeowners or visitors of
 the association," Miller said.
     Miller is in agreement with the dissenters in the case.  "When buildings
 are not built to code, a red flag should go up.  For instance, if a firewall
 is not built to code, damage from earthquake or fire may not be imminent, but
 may cause harm in a later time if a fire or earthquake occurs," Miller said.
 Justice George said the court should have adopted a rule to allow homeowners
 compensation for repairs of life-threatening defects.  "A court could ensure
 that the money was spent to repair the property," George argued.  In addition
 Justice Mosk, in a dissent, said that he regretted that the court failed to
 create even a "minimal safeguard" for homeowners.
     "I am disappointed the court took such a shorthanded view of a systematic
 problem in the building industry.  This will open up the gates for companies
 to build homes using shoddy workmanship, since they believe that they are
 protected from laws that require they adhere to building codes and industry
 standards.  We stand firm as consumer attorneys that homeowners must be
 protected.  I will lobby hard to ensure that appropriate legislation is
 proposed to counteract the Supreme Court Decision," Miller said.
     Since 1981, the Miller Law Firm has collected more than $350 million in
 construction defect awards on behalf of California homeowners associations.
     The Miller Law Firm can be reached at

SOURCE The Miller Law Firm