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October 2013

Gordon & Rees Los Angeles Team Wins Dismissal in Construction Case

On Oct. 3, Gordon & Rees partner David Jones and senior counsel A. Louis Dorny of Los Angeles won a motion for judgment on the pleadings dismissing their client, an architectural firm, from a construction lawsuit.

In Southsight LLC v. J.D. Group Construction, the owners of a 17,000-square-foot Beverly Hills penthouse retained a general contractor to perform an $11 million remodel, which later ballooned to $25 million.  The owners terminated and replaced the original contractor and design team, and brought on a successor to replace them.  In the lawsuits that followed, the homeowners sued the general contractor for delays and various defective conditions.  In response, the general contractor brought an equitable indemnity claim against the architect-client, claiming that any delay alleged by the plaintiffs was caused, in part, by acts or omissions of the architects in rendering their design services.

Jones and Dorny successfully argued that the architect-client owed no duty to the general contractor, warranting dismissal of the cross-complaint with prejudice.  The architect-client had no contract with the general contractor and rendered no services for the benefit of the general contractor.  Instead, the architect-client rendered services solely for the benefit of the plaintiff property owners who contracted them.  Furthermore, applications of the factors set forth in Biakanja v. Irving, 49 Cal. 2d 647 (1958), and Bily v. Arthur Young Co., 3 Cal. 4th 370 (1992), did not warrant imposition of a special duty upon the architect in favor of the general contractor. 

The Los Angeles Superior Court agreed with Gordon & Rees and granted the motion for judgment on the pleadings in favor of the architect-client.

A. Louis Dorny
David L. Jones