Real Property Law

Cal. Real. Prop. Journal 2016, VOL. 34, NO. 1

Ruling Class: Evaluating Class Allegations for Complex Construction Claims in California

Michael Parme

Michael Parme is a Senior Associate in Haight Brown & Bonesteel, LLP’s San Diego office. Mr. Parme’s litigation practice encompasses the defense of commercial and insurance-related civil actions. He is a Certified Litigation Management Professional and has written and presented on issues related to complex and class action litigation. Mr. Parme is a graduate of Notre Dame Law School (J.D. 2008).

For more than a half century, the class action has been utilized with increasing frequency to efficiently prosecute a multitude of similar individual claims. The class action allows one lawsuit to encompass the claims of numerous individuals so long as their claims are sufficiently similar pursuant to established criteria. Unquestionably, this confers a benefit not only on the class members, who in many cases would not otherwise individually seek relief, but also benefits the judicial system by promoting economy. While the class action has thrived in certain contexts such as consumer and employment litigation, practitioners have also sought to utilize it in other contexts. This article looks at how this proliferation has impacted construction litigation and evaluates the implications of class certification from a risk management perspective.

Part I of this article reviews the underlying framework and legal standard for certification of class action claims in California. Part II frames the issue of class certification in the context of construction litigation and discusses its application. Part III reviews California case law specific to certification of construction-related claims, addressing the substantive arguments both for and against certification. Part IV distills the substantive law into a practical approach for evaluating a construction defect lawsuit with class action allegations.

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