When Is A Project Delay Material and Actionable?

By Rick Erickson Welcome to 2022!  This year, the construction industry will undoubtedly reflect on the last two years as unprecedented times plagued by construction project delays.  The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to suspension of work and closure of construction projects … Continue reading

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Amada Family Limited Partnership v. Pomeroy: Colorado Court of Appeals expressly affirms the continuing viability of the common-law after-acquired title doctrine and expressly recognizes utility easements by necessity

On May 27, 2021, a division of the Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Amada Family Limited Partnership v. Pomeroy, 2021 COA 73.  In that case, the court decided two significant issues that apparently had never been expressly … Continue reading

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Tort Claims Against an Alter Ego May Be Considered an Action “On a Contract” for the Purposes of an Attorneys’ Fees Award under California Civil Code section 1717

By: Tony Carucci California Civil Code section 1717 entitles the prevailing party to attorneys’ fees “n any action on a contract,” where the contract provides for an award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party, regardless of whether the prevailing … Continue reading

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Arizona Governor Ducey’s Executive Order on Residential Eviction Actions

By:  Bob Henry As part of the State of Arizona’s response to the current public health crisis, on March 24, 2020, Arizona Governor Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-14, titled “Postponement of Eviction Actions.” A copy of the Executive Order is … Continue reading

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Short-Term Rental Legislation & Litigation On the Way!

The advent of the shared economy in the real estate context has provided homeowners and investors alike with expanded opportunities to generate revenue from the use of their real estate. Airbnb and VRBO are two of the most popular companies … Continue reading

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CCP 998 Does Not Confer an Independent Right to Attorneys’ Fees

By: Tony Carucci A so-called “offer to compromise” under California Code of Civil Procedure section 998 can reverse the parties’ entitlement to costs after the date of the offer, depending on the outcome of the litigation. Cal. Code Civ. Proc. … Continue reading

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Colorado Court of Appeals clarifies that a finding of irreparable harm is not required to enter a permanent injunction to enforce an easement

On March 21, 2019, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Rinker v. Colina-Lee, holding for the first time that the “irreparable harm” element typically required to grant a permanent injunction is not needed for injunctions issued to … Continue reading

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What If Your CCP 998 Offer is Silent on Costs?

By: Tony Carucci In California, the “prevailing party” in litigation is generally entitled to recover its costs as a matter of law. See Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1032. But under California Code of Civil Procedure section 998, a party … Continue reading

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Ten Years After Colorado’s Adverse Possession Amendment: a brief look backwards and forwards

In response to national outrage over an infamous adverse possession case in Boulder, Colorado, in which a lawyer and a judge intentionally took their neighbors’ undeveloped land through adverse possession, the Colorado legislature amended the state’s adverse possession statute (C.R.S. … Continue reading

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Wait, You Want An HOA?! Restricting Implied Common-Interest Communities

By: Neal McConomy While the butt of many jokes and a thorn in the side of some property owners, homeowners associations (“HOAs”) serve the vital function of collecting and disbursing funds to care for and maintain common areas of residential … Continue reading

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Cybersecurity on Your Project: Why Not Follow National Security Strategy?

By Rick Erickson In its recent Cybersecurity Strategy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defined “cyberspace” as “the independent network of information technology infrastructure, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computers, information and communications systems, and embedded processors and controllers.”  … Continue reading

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California Supreme Court Clarifies Deadline to File Anti-SLAPP Motions in Light of Amended Pleadings

By: Tony Carucci California’s “anti-SLAPP” (“SLAPP” is an acronym for strategic lawsuit against public participation) statute—codified at California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 et seq.—is the primary vehicle for defending against any action involving petitioning or free speech. The … Continue reading

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Developers Celebrate Arizona’s Opportunity Zones

By: Patrick J. Paul President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December included a new community development program designed to promote investment in low income urban and rural communities.  These “Opportunity Zones” provide that every Governor … Continue reading

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Under Colorado House Bill 17-1279, HOA Boards Now Must Get Members’ Informed Consent Before Bringing A Construction Defect Action

By: Luke Mecklenburg Last year, I wrote a post calling attention to stalled efforts in the Colorado legislature to pass  meaningful construction defect reform.  Shortly thereafter, the legislature got it done in the form of House Bill 17-1279.  This bill creates … Continue reading

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California’s Right To Repair Act Is The Sole Remedy For Damages For Construction Defects In New Residential Construction

By: Mark Johnson The California Supreme Court ruled in McMillin Albany LLC et al. v. The Superior Court of Kern County, (1/18/2018) 4 cal. 5th 241, that California’s Right to Repair Act, California Civil Code sections 895 et seq. (“Act”) … Continue reading

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When Does a Contractor Legally Abandon a Construction Project?

By Rick Erickson Lately, we’ve been spending more time as litigators pursuing and defending claims of abandonment against contractors. It has become apparent that abandonment is often misinterpreted in its legal meaning and effect.  Here are some thoughts on abandonment … Continue reading

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Withdrawal of an Admission in California May Shift Costs—Including Attorneys’ Fees—Incurred in Connection with the Withdrawal

By: Tony Carucci Under California Code of Civil Procedure section 2033.300, a court may permit a party to withdraw an admission made in response to a request for admission upon noticed motion. The court may only do so, however, “if … Continue reading

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Is the Issuance of a City Use Permit Referable? Not When It Is an Administrative Act

By: Adam E. Lang Arizona’s Constitution gives electors in cities, towns, and counties the ability to refer legislation that was enacted by their local elected officials to the ballot for popular vote. Ariz. Const. art. IV, Pt. 1 § 1(8). … Continue reading

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Arizona Supreme Court Clarifies Area Variance Standard; Property Owners May Obtain an Area Variance When Special Circumstances Existed at Purchase

By:  Nick Wood, Adam Lang, Noel Griemsmann, and Brianna Long In Pawn 1st v. City of Phoenix, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected a Court of Appeals rule that would have unduly restrained alienation of property in Arizona. The Court of Appeals … Continue reading

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Arizona Supreme Court Confirms a Prevailing Homeowner Can Recover Fees on Implied Warranty Claims

By Rick Erickson On August 9th, in Sirrah Enterprises, L.L.C. v. Wunderlich, the Arizona Supreme Court settled the question about recovery of attorneys’ fees after prevailing on implied warranty claims against a residential contractor.  The simple answer is, yes, a … Continue reading

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California Supreme Court Hands Victory to Private Property Owners Over Public Use

By:  Sean M. Sherlock In 1970 the California Supreme Court held that, under certain circumstances, private property owners impliedly dedicate their property to the public if they permit the public to use it. Gion v. City of Santa Cruz (1970) … Continue reading

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Appeals of Rulings by The Registrar of Contractors Must Be Timely Filed in Superior Court.

By Rick Erickson Recently in Johnson v. Arizona Registrar of Contractors, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of a homeowner’s late appeal of an adverse decision by the Registrar of Contractors (“Registrar”).  After successfully pursuing a complaint to suspend … Continue reading

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Does Your 998 Offer to Compromise Include Attorneys’ Fees and Costs?

By: Anthony J. Carucci In California, the “prevailing party” in litigation is generally entitled to recover its costs as a matter of law. See Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1032. But under California Code of Civil Procedure section 998, a … Continue reading

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Colorado House Bill 1279 stalls over 120-day unit owner election period

With the session more than halfway through, the Colorado Legislature’s 2017 attempts at meaningful construction defect reform may fail again.  This year, the Legislature did not attempt a single-bill construction defect overhaul like those that have failed over the last … Continue reading

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Sierra Pacific v. Bradbury goes unchallenged: Colorado’s six-year statute of repose begins when a subcontractor’s scope of work ends

It’s official: the October 20, 2016 deadline to petition for certiorari  to the Colorado Court of Appeals on its decision in Sierra Pacific Industries, Inc. v. Bradbury has passed, so it appears that decision will stand. In Sierra Pacific, the … Continue reading

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Avoiding Lender Liability for Credit-Related Actions in California

By: Anthony J. Carucci Aside from general statutory prohibitions on lender discrimination, there are certain circumstances under California law in which lenders may be held liable for credit-related actions, such as negotiating or denying credit. See generally 11 Cal. Real … Continue reading

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Developer Awarded Cost of Preparing Administrative Record in CEQA Lawsuit

Lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) typically proceed as petitions for administrative mandamus. This means the petitioner is asking the court to review an agency’s decision and ultimately issue a mandate directing the agency to set aside its … Continue reading

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“Rip and Tear” Damage Remains Covered Under CGL Policy as “Accident”—for Now.

By: Michael Lindsay and Luke Mecklenburg The Colorado Supreme Court has approved a settlement between the parties to an appeal of the 2012 Colorado Pool Systems v. Scottsdale Insurance Company Court of Appeals case, leaving that ruling intact.  The ruling … Continue reading

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Common Law Indemnity Claim Affirmed on Justifiable Beliefs

By Rick Erickson https://www.swlaw.com/people/rick_erickson Yesterday, the Arizona Court of Appeals issued an interesting opinion in Hatch Development v. Solomon. Hatch illustrated two key points in real estate and construction litigation: (1) a contractor’s indemnity does not always require an expressly … Continue reading

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Governor Ducey Vetoes Water and Development Bills

By Patrick J. Paul With the second regular legislative session of Governor Doug Ducey’s tenure complete, the Governor exercised his veto pen rejecting several laws impacting water and land development. On May 9th, Governor Ducey vetoed two measures that could … Continue reading

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Examining Denver’s new construction defect reform ordinance

Construction defect reform is a hot-button issue in Colorado.  This is especially true along the booming Front Range, where rapidly increasing population has driven the prices of renting and buying property a mile high.  Developers maintain that building condominiums is … Continue reading

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Tips on Pursuing and Defending Complaints against Contractors

By Rick Erickson firm bio The often staggering cost of litigation has prompted an equally staggering amount of regulatory complaints against contractors in recent years. Why? Because filing a complaint against a contractor may not cost a complainant anything but time. And … Continue reading

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Property Taxes: A Shopping Center May Not Always be a Shopping Center

By:  Rick Herold, Craig McPike & Ben Reeves In the world of real property taxes, Valuation + Classification = Assessed Valuation.  Sounds simple, right?  The County Assessor determines the first factor, valuation (subject to certain guidelines under applicable Arizona law).  … Continue reading

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Homebuilders Welcome Recent Court Decisions

By:  Patrick Paul Arizona homebuilders will welcome with open arms two recent legal rulings of substantial impact to their industry. In the first decision, on July 28, 2015, in Sullivan v. Pulte Home Corp., No. 1 CA-CV 14-0199, the Arizona … Continue reading

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Upheld: Injured Subcontractor’s Lent Employee Has No Claim Against Landowner or General Contractor After Choosing Workers’ Compensation and Failing to Prove Landowner Controlled the Work

By Rick Erickson (http://www.swlaw.com/attorneys/rick_erickson) On this Memorial Day 2015, I write in honor of my U.S. Marine Corps colleague, Megan McClung, who was killed in Iraq nine years ago this December.  Major McClung and I served together in Anbar Province … Continue reading

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Federal Courts to Apply More Protective State Law when Analyzing Validity of Pre-dispute Jury Trial Waivers in Diversity Jurisdiction Cases

By Anthony J. Carucci The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that federal courts sitting in diversity jurisdiction must apply the underlying state law to determine the validity of pre-dispute jury trial waivers where the state law is more … Continue reading

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A Purchaser Who Doesn’t Inquire May Be Teeing Up For Failure

  By: Erica Stutman Picture this:  While on the hunt for new development opportunities, you stumble across a golf course in the middle of a high-end community, and you think this would be the perfect spot for more houses, or … Continue reading

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Transfer of Property Title to a Holding Company Did Not Divest Landowner of Owner-Occupant Status Under A.R.S. § 33-1002(B)

By:  Richard G. Erickson Recently, in Marco Crane & Rigging Co. v. Masaryk, 703 Ariz. Adv. Rep. 29 (Dec. 30, 2014), the Arizona Court of Appeals established that a subcontractor on a residential project has no lien rights against an … Continue reading

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Guarantor Waivers Narrowed

By:  Lyndsey A. Torp and Sean M. Sherlock A general waiver by a guarantor of “all defenses” does not actually waive “all defenses.”   California Bank & Trust v. Del Ponti, — Cal.Rptr.3d —, 2014 WL 6908141 (Cal.App. 4 Dist.).  That … Continue reading

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California Case Requires Arbitration Despite Lack of Actual Controversy

  By:  Lyndsey A. Torp and Sean M. Sherlock For parties to litigate a contract dispute in a court of law, the parties’ disagreement must have ripened into an actual controversy presenting more than a mere academic difference of opinion.  … Continue reading

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General Contractor’s Prospective Waiver Of Its Lien Rights Is Enforceable In California

By: Lyndsey Torp http://www.swlaw.com/attorneys/lyndsey_torp In another decision favoring lenders (See http://www.swlaw.com/blog/real-estate-litigation/2014/08/29/arizona-supreme-court-to-contractor-sorry-but-equitable-subrogation-of-a-banks-later-deed-of-trust-trumps-earlier-mechanics-lien-rights/), the California Court of Appeal, in an opinion published in September 2014, entitled Moorefield Construction, Inc. v. Intervest Mortgage Investment Company, et al., D065464, held an original contractor can … Continue reading

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Vendees’ Liens—Construction Lenders Beware!

By:  David A. Sprentall A recent Arizona Court of Appeals decision highlights a lien priority risk for secured construction lenders when the financed project fails. The problem—known as a “vendee lien”—is most likely to arise when up-front deposits are paid by … Continue reading

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Easements Made Easier: Building Pipelines with the Power of Eminent Domain Under the Natural Gas Act

By: Richard H. Herold Any person or entity seeking to construct a natural gas pipeline and successful in obtaining a certificate of convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may exercise the power of eminent domain to obtain easements across … Continue reading

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Nevada Supreme Court Clarifies Mechanic and Materialman Lien Issues

By:  Nathan Kanute and Bob Olson On August 7, 2014, the Nevada Supreme Court issued two opinions dealing with the priority of mechanics’ liens and the proof required for a materialman to establish a lien.  These cases provide valuable guidance to … Continue reading

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A Subsequent Developer has no Ability to Force a Public Body to Call an Abandoning Developer’s Performance Bonds for Infrastructure Improvements.

The Arizona Court of Appeals decided on July 22, 2014 that a developer cannot compel a public entity to call its performance bonds to complete infrastructure improvements on a construction project that a prior developer abandoned due to bankruptcy.  Ponderosa … Continue reading

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Governmental Power and Property Lines

By: Neal McConomy On May 27, 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Town of Dillon v. Yacht Club Condos. Home Owners Ass’n, 2014 CO 37.  Overturning the rulings of both the trial court and the Colorado Court … Continue reading

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Amendments to Arizona’s Anti-deficiency Statute Exclude Homebuilders from Anti-Deficiency Protection

By:  Ben Reeves Last Tuesday, April 20, 2014, Arizona’s Governor, Jan Brewer, signed HB 2018 into law.  This bill closes a long-standing loophole that allowed commercial homebuilders to take advantage of Arizona’s anti-deficiency statute, even though the statute was originally … Continue reading

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Arizona Supreme Court Holds That Property Owner Who Quarreled With Light Rail Construction Should Be Compensated For Lost Access

By Eric H. Spencer Late last week, the Arizona Supreme Court handed down a decision that clarified the rights of property owners who lose access to an abutting road and, in the process, reinforced the principle that both elimination and … Continue reading

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The Registrar is Changing the Game for Complaints Against Arizona Contractors

By Rick Erickson http://www.swlaw.com/attorneys/rick_erickson Sweeping changes at the Registrar of Contractors have the construction and real estate industries concerned and curious.  The Registrar recently received some poor performance reports by the Auditor General and State Ombudsmen.  As a result, the … Continue reading

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Beyond Real Estate: Publicly Traded Homebuilders (And Other Public Companies) Must be Aware of Cybersecurity and Data Breach Disclosure Requirements Applicable to SEC Filings

By:  Richard H. Herold Generally speaking, publicly traded homebuilders and other public companies must disclose material information in their SEC filings.  “Information is considered material if there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable investor would consider it important in … Continue reading

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Mortgage Lenders Can’t Jump Ahead of Mechanic’s Liens

By:  Ben Reeves In Weitz Co., LLC v. Heth, 223 Ariz. 442, 314 P.3d 569 (Ct. App. Nov. 26 2013), the Arizona Court of Appeals held that the plain language of Arizona’s mechanic lien statute, A.R.S. § 33-992(A), does not … Continue reading

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Arizona Court of Appeals Holds That Certain Residential Developers Are Not Protected By The Anti-Deficiency Statute After Foreclosure Of A Deed Of Trust On Vacant Land

By Eric Spencer and Adam Lang Nearly three years ago, in M&I Marshall & Isley Bank v. Mueller, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that the Arizona anti-deficiency statute protects a borrower who started, but never completed, construction of a … Continue reading

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Developers and Homebuilders: The Ramifications of Yanni v. Tucker Plumbing, Inc.

By Bob Henry On November 20, 2013, Division Two of the Arizona Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Yanni v. Tucker Plumbing, Inc., 2013 Ariz. App. LEXIS 235.    While the opinion was a victory of sorts for the real … Continue reading

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s Latest Attempt to Differentiate a Fair Quid Pro Quo in the Developer’s Permitting Process From an Unconstitutional Taking

By:  Rick Herold Introduction The U.S. Supreme Court has issued an important decision in an attempt to add clarity and help government land use planners understand the difference between reasonable requests and unreasonable demands rising to the level of unconstitutional … Continue reading

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Green construction sounds great, but…

It isn’t always easy being green. Snell & Wilmer partner Marc Erpenbeck talks about emerging litigation issues generated by the proliferation of green construction projects in this informative article entitled “Understanding LEEDigation, The fast-growing trend of GREEN building spurs new … Continue reading

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