30 November 2011

Court rules that extrapolation evidence is admissible in construction defect dispute

Yesterday, the Adams County District Court issued a well-reasoned order denying a motion to preclude the use of extrapolation evidence in a construction defect suit that The Witt Law Firm is currently prosecuting.
The case involves a homeowner association's claim for defective vinyl siding installation. The association has alleged that the installer failed to use a required weather-resistive barrier and made other errors. The installer argued that the association's experts had improperly relied on findings from a small sample of data to conclude that all of the siding in the community needed replacement.

In its order, the court observed that to extrapolate means "to project, extend, or expand known data or experience into an area not known or experienced so as to arrive at a conjectural knowledge of the unknown area." The court then found that the association had obtained deposition testimony from two witnesses confirming that the siding had been installed using the same procedure on every building, and that the association's experts had confirmed that this procedure was defective. The court therefore concluded that "there is little, if any, extrapolation regarding the absence of the weather-resistive barrier and the commonality of the method of installing the siding."

The court went on to hold that any arguments about the methodology that the association's experts used would merely be an issue of weight and credibility for the jury: "to the extent any opinion of the experts regarding the absence of any weather-resistive barrier or installation defects on all of the buildings may be based on extrapolation, it would go to the weight to be given the testimony."

01 November 2011

Tenth Circuit reverses judgment for carrier in Greystone v. National Fire & Marine

Today, the Tenth Circuit issued its long-awaited opinion in Greystone Construction v. National Fire & Marine and vacated the summary judgment that had entered in favor of the insurance carrier. The court declined to apply HB 10-1394 to existing policies but recognized that the Colorado Court of Appeals's 2009 decision in General Security v. Mountain States was likely in conflict with Colorado Supreme Court precedent. We will post more information once we have had time to review the opinion in detail, but this is clearly a significant development in the law of construction insurance in Colorado.

The slip opinion is available on the Tenth Circuit's website.

Update: For a further discussion of this case, see Jesse Howard Witt and Marci M. Achenbach, "Insuring the Risk of Construction Defects in Colorado: The Tenth Circuit's Greystone Decision," 90 Den. U. L. Rev. 621 (2013).