On June 10, 2023, a jury in Portland, Oregon found PacifiCorp and Pacific Power (collectively, “PacifiCorp”) liable for negligence, trespass, and nuisance based on a series of four wildfires that occurred during Labor Day weekend in 2020. PacifiCorp prevailed against the plaintiffs on the claim of inverse condemnation. With respect to the tort-based claims, the jury awarded approximately $72 million in compensatory damages to 17 plaintiffs. The jury later found PacifiCorp liable for $18 million in punitive damages, or one quarter of the compensatory damages that the jury awarded to the 17 plaintiffs. The jury’s liability findings apply to a broader class of owners, whose damages will need to be individually proven in a yet-to-be defined second phase of proceedings. Post-verdict motion practice and appeals may affect the jury’s findings.Continue Reading Beyond Inverse Condemnation in Wildfire Litigation: An Oregon Jury Finds Utility Liable for Negligence, Trespass and Nuisance
Move over luxury bus lines and quick flights. Central Texans should be on the lookout for bulldozers and train stops. On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of Texas held that Texas Central Railroad & Infrastructure, Inc. and related entities (collectively “Texas Central”) have eminent domain authority to acquire property for a proposed high-speed rail system between Dallas and Houston. Specifically, the Court held that the corporation qualifies as an “interurban electric railway company” under the Texas Transportation Code. This ruling grants Texas Central the broad condemnation authority to procure land for the project.Continue Reading Texas Central Wins Authority to Take Land for High-Speed Rail System
On July 21, 2021, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) issued a 3-1 decision affirming its precedent that displaying banners and a large inflatable rat (“Scabby the Rat”) near neutral employers does not violate the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA” or “the Act”). This decision may come as a disappointment to many employers as the NLRB under the Trump administration had been making efforts to end what many felt was unlawful secondary picketing under the Act.
Continue Reading Scabby Survives Another Trip to the NLRB: Board Reaffirms Rat-and-Banner Displays Targeting Neutral Businesses Are Permissible
Not your average game of patty-cake! Earlier this week, New York’s First Department, Appellate Division issued its decision related to 200 Amsterdam, overturning the lower court’s decision which would have required 200 Amsterdam to remove several floors of its building in order to comply with zoning. The lower court determined that the NYC Zoning Resolution did not permit a developer to utilize a portion of a tax lot to merge with a neighboring zoning lot.
Continue Reading Build Me A Building As Fast As You Can
Contractors performing work in California are required to be licensed by the California State License Board (“CSLB”). Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §7065. Except for sole proprietors, contractors are typically licensed through “qualifiers,” i.e., officers or employees who take a licensing exam and meet other requirements to become licensed on behalf of the contractor’s company. Contractors who perform work in California without being properly licensed are subject to a world of hurt, including civil and criminal penalties (see, e.g., Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 7028, 7028.6, 7028.7, 7117, and Cal. Labor Code §§ 1020-1022), and the inability to maintain a lawsuit to recover compensation for their work. Cal. Bus & Prof. Code § 7031(a); Hydra Tech Systems Ltd. v. Oasis Water Park, 52 Cal.3rd 988 (1991).
Continue Reading Landmark Contractor Licensing Case Limits Disgorgement Remedy in California
On May 14, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued its opinion in United Riggers & Erectors, Inc. v. Coast Iron & Steel Co., No. S231549, slip. op. (Cal. Sup. Ct. May 14, 2018). In it, the Court narrowly construed the “good faith” exception to the general rule that a direct contractor must make retention payments to its subcontractors within 10 days of receiving any retention payment. The exception provides that “[i]f a good faith dispute exists between the direct contractor and a subcontractor, the direct contractor may withhold from the retention to the subcontractor an amount not in excess of 150 percent of the estimated value of the disputed amount.” Cal. Civ. Code section 8814(c).
Continue Reading It’s All a Matter of [Statutory] Construction: Supreme Court Narrowly Interprets the Good Faith Dispute Exception to Prompt Payment Requirements in United Riggers & Erectors, Inc. v. Coast Iron & Steel Co.
It is industry standard in California for owners of a construction project to make monthly payments to a contractor for work it has completed, less a certain percentage that is withheld as a guarantee of future satisfactory performance. This withholding is called a retention. Contractors generally pass these withholdings on to their subcontractors via a retention clause in the subcontract. Under such clause, if a subcontractor fails to complete its work or correct deficiencies in its work, the owner and the general contractor may use the retention to bring the subcontractor’s work into conformance with the requirements of the contract.
Continue Reading “Good Faith” May Not Be Good Enough: California Supreme Court to Decide When General Contractors Can Withhold Retention
The Third District Court of Appeal recently held that completion under the mechanics lien statute requires actual completion of the work of improvement, meaning completion of the entire structure or scheme of improvement as a whole, in Picerne Construction Corp. v. Castellino Villas (Feb. 18, 2016, C071197).* In doing so, the Court resolved an ambiguity developed through case law by acknowledging the abrogation of authority that permitted completion to be found where only “trivial imperfections” to the work of improvement remained.
Continue Reading Picerne Construction Corp. v. Castellino Villas (Feb. 18, 2016, C071197)