Suing home builders has become a cottage industry in many parts of the country. It’s easy to understand from a trial lawyer’s perspective. Find one alleged problem and you can quickly sign up the whole development. This trend has been dealt a blow by a recent ruling in Orange County, however. Nineteen homeowners in Mission Viejo who had sued National Ready Mixed Services Co. for allegedly supplying defective foundations have not only lost their case, they’ve been ordered to pay nearly $500,000 of the defendant’s $2.2 million in court costs.
The homeowners had asked for $5 million in damages. Judge David C. Velasquez of the Orange County Superior Court ruled that they failed to demonstrate that the defendants had supplied defective concrete or that the concrete had even been damaged by sulfates in the soil.
This is only the second known instance in California of plaintiffs being ordered to pay a defendant’s court costs in a construction defect trial in the past 15 years. Similar cases are being contested in San Diego and Scottsdale, Arizona.
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BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.