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July 19, 2004
Colo. construction-defects initiative
Last year the Colorado legislature enacted a law which endeavors to curb burgeoning litigation over construction defects by: 1) giving builders an opportunity to repair flaws before being taken to court; 2) restricting the availability of triple damages; and 3) making it harder for complaints to allege that a defect is present in all units of a multi-unit complex when evidence of defectiveness has been found for only a few units. Now trial lawyers have struck back with a ballot initiative, Amendment 34, which the Secretary of State has certified for the fall ballot. Intended to overturn last year's law, it would create sweeping new rights under the state constitution to sue over building defects. So sweeping would the new rights be, in fact, that homeowners could be exposed to permanently wider liability to later purchasers of their homes over alleged defects in decks, additions and other improvements. ("Fall ballot issue invites lawsuits" (editorial), Rocky Mountain News, Jul. 3). Political strategist Rick Reiter, who represents a coalition of builders and business interests fighting the initiative, "said that the reason the amendment is on the ballot in the first place is because two law firms -- Vanatta Sullan Sandgrund & Sullan and McKenzie Rhody & Hearn -- each wrote checks totalling at least $117,500 to the campaign." (Leia Baez, "Building-suit battle brews", Denver Post, Jun. 29).
Posted by Walter Olson at 07:17 AM
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