Appellate Win on Behalf of Roofing Subcontractor – 4th DCA – Palm Beach County

Miami Associate Francesca Stein recently obtained a favorable opinion out of the Fourth District Court of Appeal per curium affirming the trial court’s order granting summary judgment on a roofing subcontractor’s non-liability for design defects that led to water intrusion and mold in the home and caused the tenant’s adverse health effects.

CSK represented a roof installation subcontractor in a negligence action brought by tenants of a rental home in Palm Beach County. The tenants brought a negligence action against the roofing subcontractor and several other subcontractors, alleging that the subcontractors’ negligence allowed moisture into the home which led to mold and eventually caused adverse health effects.

The tenants argued that the home’s pitched roof caused the moisture intrusion and mold growth. On behalf of the roofing subcontractor, we moved for summary judgment, asserting that each of the tenants’ allegations concerns the design of the home—specifically, the decision to design the home with a pitched roof—and the subcontracted roof installer was merely hired to install the roof.

In response, the tenants stated that it is common knowledge in the roofing industry that pitched roofs are not suitable for the South Florida climate, and that the roof installer should have notified the general contractor of same, and its failure to do so was negligent. The trial court ultimately granted summary judgment for the roofing subcontractor, finding that the tenants’ causes of action related to the design of the home rather than the installation of the roof.

The tenants appealed, arguing that the roof installer had a duty to notify the general contractor that the pitched roof system was not suitable for the South Florida climate. We maintained our position that the tenants’ claims related to the design of the home, which the roof installer was not hired to do. Plainly, the roof installer was hired to install the roof in accordance with the pre-designed plans and specifications provided by the general contractor.

The case went to oral argument before the Fourth District Court of Appeal, wherein the court acknowledged that a subcontractor does not owe a duty to notify the general contractor that a pitched roof system is not suitable for a particular climate. Since the tenants did not allege that the roof was negligently installed—which was the roofing subcontractor’s only duty—the roof subcontractor owned no duty to the tenants. Accordingly, the Fourth District issued an order per curiam affirming summary judgment for the roofing subcontractor.

Francesca Stein
(786) 268-6890

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