ILNews

Court properly preserved home habitability claim

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has found that a Clark County case can continue involving claims against a home construction company. The former homeowners allege that the company defectively built their home and that mold and water damage occurred, leading to loss of habitability.

In Arc Construction Management, LLC, and Alan Muncy v. John Zelenak and Cecilia Zelenak, No 10A01-1106-CT-247, the appellate court affirmed a Clark Superior Court’s ruling to not dismiss the case involving a newly constructed home in Floyd County.

John and Cecilia Zelenak bought the home in 2004. Four years later, they filed a complaint against ARC Construction Management that alleged the company breached the contract by not constructing the home in a structurally sound manner and building it contrary to building code. Specifically, the suit alleged the windows and doors weren’t properly installed or were defective, the lintels remain unpainted, one rafter was missing, electrical wires were left exposed, and there was water intrusion that damaged personal property inside. The Zelenaks wanted ARC to cover the losses and pay punitive damages in order to deter similar conduct in the future.

In 2010, the Zelenaks foreclosed on their home and ARC filed a motion to dismiss on grounds that they lacked standing after foreclosing on their ownership. Although the Zelenaks conceded the foreclosure barred most of their claims, they argued that they still had standing to bring a claim concerning the loss of use and enjoyment in the house during their time there due to the water intrusion. The trial court preserved that claim but granted summary judgment in ARC’s favor on the remaining issues, and the court then certified the order for interlocutory appeal.

On appeal, the three-judge panel found that ARC had adequate notice of the implied warranty breach claim because it was alleged in the amended complaint. The court found the Zelenaks have standing because they are alleging damage sustained as a result of ARC’s defective construction, and the panel determined a genuine issue exists for trial on that claim of habitability.

The court also denied a request for attorney fees from the Zelenaks, finding that ARC’s failure to include exhibits in its appendix weren’t so flagrant or significant to warrant those fees.


 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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