Author: John V. O’Meara, Esq.
Now that California's Right to Repair Statute, commonly referred to as SB (Senate Bill) 800, codified in California Civil Code section 895 et. seq., is nearly a decade old, cases filed pursuant to SB 800 are approaching trial. While the statute's language is heavy in regard to the elements of the right to repair, and ramifications for not repairing, nothing of substance is contained in the statute for how to implement the statute at the time of trial.
As anyone who practices in this area knows, SB 800 eliminates the traditional definitions of construction defect (formerly referred to as breaches of the standards of generally accepted construction practices) and replaces them with what are referred to as "functionality standards". But the standards are not uniform. There are numerous different statutes of limitations for different building components. Some standards require damage and others do not. The statute uses numerous undefined but essential terms such as "intended water", "significant cracks" and "materially comply". What do these terms mean?
The subject of how to actually try an SB 800 case is currently in hot debate. Plaintiffs' counsels want to argue their case and let the trier of fact decide everything. But not so fast. Defendants in construction defect cases have a right to know the standards that apply to a case, the definitions that will be presented to the jury, and the burden of proof that attaches. Defendants have a right to know which functionality standards are at issue, and which statutes of limitations.
Before SB 800 cases reach trial, it is incumbent on the defense to raise these issues with the trial judge, and initiate a series of hearings before trial to determine these issues. Forewarned is forearmed!
For more information contact john O’Meara at (818) 712-9800