DEWHIRST & DOLVEN ATTORNEYS TREVOR COFER AND ROBIN LAMBOURN OBTAINED A VERY DEFENSE-FRIENDLY JURY VERDICT IN A CONSTRUCTION DEFECT CASE

Larimer County, Colorado:  Dewhirst & Dolven attorneys Trevor Cofer and Robin Lambourn obtained a very defense-friendly verdict of $51,900 on behalf of a general contractor at the conclusion of a six day jury trial in Larimer County District Court in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Charles F. Brega and Matthew Rork of Fairfield & Woods, P.C., represented the Plaintiffs/homeowners, Robert and Yvonne Lauro.  Plaintiffs initially sued Bison Ridge, LLC, and Shear Engineering Corp., in addition to Dewhirst & Dolven’s client, Province, Inc.  Plaintiffs alleged settlement of two to three inches of their slab-on-grade underlying their finished walkout basement level and their garage slab.  Plaintiffs also alleged defective construction of a balcony and improper grading and drainage.  Plaintiffs’ home is located in the Bison Ridge subdivision in Windsor, Colorado.  Bison Ridge was the developer who placed some fill on the lot during the development phase.  Shear Engineering was the structural engineer for the home.  Dewhirst & Dolven’s client was the general contractor for the construction of Plaintiffs’ home.

 Plaintiffs settled with Bison Ridge and Shear Engineering before trial, leaving the general contractor as the only remaining defendant at trial.  At trial, Plaintiffs’ experts alleged that Province’s subcontractor failed to adequately compact the fill that it placed beneath Plaintiffs’ home.  Plaintiffs’ experts also contended that Province should have obtained a lot-specific soils report.  Plaintiffs presented a cost of repair of $1.12 million, calling for replacement of the slab with a structural floor, and also requested significant damages for relocation, inconvenience, aggravation, loss of use, and loss of enjoyment.  Province contended that Shear Engineering was fully aware of the amount of fill placed and, as the structural engineer, had the sole responsibility to design a structural floor rather than a slab-on-grade and to request any additional soils investigations necessary for the structural design.  Province further argued that Bison Ridge placed much of the fill underlying Plaintiffs’ home during over-lot grading, and that Bison Ridge’s fill placement probably caused some of the settlement.  Province also presented evidence that Plaintiffs contributed to the settlement and breached their contract with Province by changing the grading around their home and planting irrigated, non-xeric landscaping adjacent to the foundation.  Finally, Province’s experts opined that compaction grouting below the home’s slabs was the more reasonable repair and presented a cost of repair of $122,000.

 The jury found in Province’s favor on the breach of contract and breach of implied warranty of habitability claims brought by Plaintiffs.  On Plaintiffs’ negligence claim, the jury found Shear Engineering 40% responsible, Plaintiffs 15% responsible, Bison Ridge 15% responsible, and Province 30% responsible.  The jury awarded a cost of repair of $150,000, approximately the amount suggested by Province’s experts.  The jury also awarded $23,000 for relocation costs, inconvenience, aggravation, loss of use, and loss of enjoyment.  Multiplying the total damages awarded by Province’s percentage of fault, the Court entered a judgment of $51,900 on December 11, 2012.  Given that Province prevailed on the breach of contract claim, Dewhirst & Dolven anticipates seeking recovery of all attorney fees and costs on behalf of Province based upon a fee-shifting provision in the contract.  Lauro v. Province Inc., No. 2010CV801.