Cheers to warm afternoons, soft breezes, and a little time away!
W&D Law, LLP, continues to grow with the addition of legal talent to our firm. With offices in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado, we are proud to serve the southwest region in a wide range of legal matters impacting the design, construction, and insurance communities.
Just a Few Notes on our Recent Successes for our Clients:
Victory for Design Professionals in Arizona! Arizona Supreme Court Affirms No Duty Owed to Owner Where there is No Contractual Relationship with the Engineer
W&D recently served as counsel for Amici Curiae American Council of Engineering Companies of Arizona and the Arizona Chapter of American Institute of Architects in the matter of Cal-Am Properties, Inc. v. Edais Engineering, Inc. Overcoming staunch and widespread opposition from nine different national and regional law firms representing the Arizona Builders Alliance, W&D filed an amicus brief that resulted in an important legal victory for design professionals.
The Arizona Supreme Court held in Cal-Am Properties that design professionals lacking privity of contract with project owners do not owe a duty to those owners to reimburse them for purely economic damages. The opposition, in seeking to impose such a duty, asserted that the decades- old case of Donnelly Construction Company v. Oberg/Hunt/Gilleland entitled third parties not in privity with a design professional to pursue negligence claims to recover purely economic damages. They argued that although the foreseeability-based duty framework relied on by the Donnelly Court was rejected in the 2007 case of Gipson v. Kasey, the Donnelly holding in support of such a duty is still good law that has been relied on by contractors and project owners through the years. W&D successfully asserted that, in light of the Gibson Court’s unequivocal elimination of a foreseeability-based duty analysis, the duty element must be based either on the existence of a recognized special relationship or public policy, and the factors for neither basis are met when a project owner attempts to recover purely economic damages from a design professional.
The Arizona Supreme Court rendered a decision echoing W&D’s arguments, upholding the trial court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the design professional and clearly stating that a duty must be based either on a special relationship or public policy, and may not rely upon the notion of foreseeability, plainly stating that Donnelly is no longer good law.
Attorneys Jacqueline Pons-Bunney, Brian Roteliuk, and Martha Bringard spearheaded the effort on behalf of ACEC AZ and AIA AZ. W&D attorneys have served the design and construction community for over two decades, representing some of the largest and most respected firms in the global A/E/C community in defense of professional liability claims in complex litigation, mediations, arbitrations, and trials at the State and Federal Court levels, and in tribal courts.
W&D Law, LLP Secures A Full Defense Verdict at Arbitration and Recovers a Portion of Legal Costs Against the Plaintiff
This matter arises from claims brought by a plaintiff against multiple defendant parties arising from two separate motor vehicle incidents in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first incident occurred on January 11, 2019, wherein the plaintiff claimed that a driver of a truck, represented by John T. Wendland, Esq. of W&D Law, LLP, sideswiped his vehicle causing him to suffer significant neck and back injuries. Plaintiff also alleged injuries to his neck and back from a second incident which occurred approximately two weeks later, on January 30, 2019, involving a separate defendant party.
Following discovery and an arbitration hearing with the presentation of testimony, analysis, and documentary support, Mr. Wendland successfully established that plaintiff’s version of the first incident and his legal claims of liability against his client were contradicted by the evidence, including the position of the vehicles at the time of impact and the visible damage to the involved vehicles. As a result, all of plaintiff’s claims and damages against Mr. Wendland’s client were dismissed with prejudice, and the arbitrator also awarded a portion of his legal costs to Mr. Wendland’s client.
In addition to dismissal of plaintiff’s claims against Mr. Wendland’s client, the defendant party from the second incident attempted to blame Mr. Wendland’s client for plaintiff’s injuries arising from the second incident under the legal theory of apportionment. Mr. Wendland was able to defeat the apportionment argument eliminating any claim and damages arising from the second incident, which the defendant party involved therein was found to be liable and one hundred percent responsible for plaintiff’s claimed injuries.
W&D Law, LLP Prevails on Summary Judgment Motion for Geotechnical Firm
W&D recently won a Motion For Summary Judgment in favor of its geotechnical firm client. The client conducted a geotechnical investigation at the behest of the provider of a homeowner’s policy of insurance. The homeowners brought suit against their insurer and the client, alleging that the client had interfered with their contractual relationship with the insurer. The homeowners also alleged that the client had violated Business and Professions Code section 17200, et seq., the so-called California Unfair Competition Law. The homeowners alleged that the insurer denied their claims in bad faith.
They claimed that a yard sprinkler leak had caused extensive damage to their residence and hillside property. The client investigated the claim and reported to the insurer that the cause of damage to the property was unrelated to any purported water leak. The insurer sent the report to a consultant structural engineer who asked questions of the client.
Based upon the client’s report and the structural engineer’s revised report, the insurer denied the homeowners’ claim. W&D, led by Mark E. Petersen, Esq., brought a Motion for Summary Judgment/Summary Adjudication asserting that undisputed facts demonstrate that the homeowners’ claims were not supported by evidence meeting the elements of the causes of action, that the client’s actions were not unlawful, and the client’s ordinary investigation and reporting were not actionable. The Court granted summary judgment and awarded costs.
Christine E. Drage, Esq., Super Lawyer, Mountain States, 2022
Congratulations to W&D’s founding partner, Christine Drage, for again being selected as a Super Lawyer, Mountain States, for 2022. Christine is licensed in Nevada and California, with over 25 years of experience litigating cases involving multi-million and multi-billion dollar public and private work complex construction cases, among other complex business litigation matters. A Super Lawyer is an exceptional achievement and title given to lawyers across the country who have reached high achievements and standards within their respective fields. The title of a Super Lawyer indicates that the lawyer has the respect of their colleagues and the public, and is not a “pay to play” selection.