Nevada Supreme Court denies class action for damaged-stucco claims

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court has rejected a request for class action status for claims of damaged stucco from faulty construction by Del Webb Communities involving nearly 1,000 Sun City Summerlin residents.

But in a victory for homeowners, the court upheld the award of damages to 71 homeowners following a jury trial in Clark County District Court in 2008.

The court, in a unanimous order dated Friday, also reversed the judgment against the hundreds of other homeowners who were denied funding for repairs by the jury despite finding Del Webb negligent, saying a new trial is warranted to determine if repairs are necessary.

The case, which began in 2003, was billed as one of the largest construction-defect cases in Nevada history.

After class action status was denied by District Judge Allan Earl in 2006, about 1,000 homeowners jointly went forward with a case. Attorneys were seeking $70 million for the homeowners.

The case went to trial in District Judge Susan Johnson’s court. A jury in 2008 determined that only 71 homeowners merited compensation totaling about $4 million for the stucco issues.

The single issue involved the stucco. Homeowners alleged that Del Webb failed to install metal screeds that would protect homes from water damage, and as a result, the homes suffered from cracked stucco, mold and weakened walls.

Attorney Don Springmeyer, representing the homeowners, had argued that class action status was warranted because there is a common defect and because a simple mathematical calculation was offered to award damages that applied to each homeowner.

Class action status could have meant the potential of thousands of homeowners becoming involved in the litigation.

But the court said Earl’s dismissal of class action status was proper because each homeowner must prove individually that repairs are necessary. The “common class” question does not predominate over the individualized issues, the court said.

In upholding the jury verdict for the 71 homeowners, the court found that they met the burden of proof to be awarded damages.

As to the hundreds of other homeowners, the issue of whether a repair is necessary is a question of fact for the jury, and the jury was not asked to determine this issue in the prior trial, the court said.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801.


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