Successful Defense of Window Manufacturer in High-stakes Construction Defect Case
Obtained a defense verdict in a construction defect case after an eight-week jury trial. This was a construction defect/defective design claim brought by a retired CEO of a major automobile manufacturer who had purchased a home on Sarasota Bay for approximately $19 million. He began remodeling the 21,000 square foot home, which eventually led to a $19 million remediation claim.
The plaintiff’s contractor found water intrusion issues stemming from construction defects at the home’s roof and decks. The contractor convinced the owner that there were further defects and implicated every trade and material supplier on the original construction project. The plaintiff sued the seller (original builder/developer) and all parties from the construction process. His “damages” were based on the alleged need to remove the roof, redesign and rebuild the structural framework for the house, remove and replace all windows and doors (over 100 total), remove all wiring and concrete work…essentially he tore down and completely rebuilt the home at a cost of over $16 million. His suit sought that money as well as stigma damages, loss of use and legal fees.
Our client was the company that manufactured and sold the windows and doors. That purchase alone was over $600,000. The windows are very high-end solid mahogany, more like furniture than just windows and doors. The claimant alleged that they leaked and that the window company had improperly supervised installation by the carpenters. The counts included negligence, breach of contract and violations of the Florida Building Code.
In defense, we conducted in-place water testing of the windows before they were removed. We also had two window experts testify; one to the manufacture of the product, the other to the performance and ability to withstand water and other elements in addition to debunking the building code allegations.
Of an original claim against 18 defendants, all but six settled. In a lesson on trial strategy, the six remaining defendants made an agreement to defend together and refrain from pointing fingers. The jury deliberated for over three days. Three of the six co-defendants had verdicts against them, but our client and two others were completely exonerated.