Our experience with construction defects is extensive. Timothy Norton of Norton & Associates has been representing clients with construction defects for 34 years. This experience involves every phase of construction defect litigation from first client contact where the claim is evaluated through every phase of the representation, where the value of the case is determined and pursued to trial and recovery or settlement. This experience includes many high-value custom built homes throughout Los Angeles, including downtown Los Angeles, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills, Manhattan Beach and Palos Verdes. His experience also includes townhomes, condominiums, warehouses, loft conversions and even high-rise construction. With $190 million in jury verdict awards, $70 million in punitive damages awards, and millions more in settlements, Timothy Norton has a proven record of success and results that form his experience.
Most importantly, each client is represented by Timothy Norton, with personal and direct attention in every phase. This is the distinct advantage of a sole practitioner, where the skill, focus and experience are devoted to your case, your concerns and to your advantage.
The initial client contact is critical. At this stage, the client wants to know something about their case. Do they have a case? Who is responsible? Can they recover? What is the potential value of the case? What are the statutes of limitation? Is there any urgency or need to file a lawsuit right away? Once the case is filed, how long does it take to resolve? And, what are the steps to get the case started? All these questions are addressed from a wealth of experience and knowledge gained from having handled and completed these cases many times before.
A critical element of this analysis begins with the nature of the problem, the cost of repair and any associated damages such as loss of use, alternate housing during repairs and possible nuisance damages. Then, the analysis turns to the issue of who is responsible, are they insured, are they viable companies and persons with assets and the financial means to pay and are they viable targets worth pursuing. This requires a sophisticated understanding of insurance coverage in the construction defect field and an equally sophisticated understanding of the limitations to insurance coverage and the numerous ways to target individuals and their assets in order to force these individuals to pay and contribute their personal funds to any settlement or recovery to compensate for the limitations to insurance coverage.
Many individuals involved in the construction and development of real property, and in particular, those involved in the construction of high-end, multi-million dollar custom homes, use shell companies and various shell entities, such as LLCs, to try to escape liability and shield their assets. There are a number of ways to attack these arrangements and to create both personal individual liability and to separately attack these entities and pierce the veil. This strategy is absolutely necessary to create contributions to the total settlement from the individuals involved. One thing is certain, the individuals, the companies and their insurance companies all want to avoid paying for these defects and they have to be compelled to pay by filing a lawsuit and the threat inherent in the litigation process and an eventual trial, which they want to avoid, and by the steady pressure of litigation combined with skillful negotiation tactics and the use of critically timed mediation sessions with known experienced construction defect mediators, and a careful and methodically built case.
It’s important to note that perhaps as much as 97% of these cases settle before trial. Settlement negotiation and strategy are therefore a vital component. Yet, at the same time, trial preparation and a clear willingness to take the matter to trial is perhaps the best settlement posture there is.
Construction defect cases are “expert driven”. What this means is that construction defect cases rely very heavily on the use of experts to evaluate the defects, determine the repair and the cost of repair, and any other related damages, and to testify about their opinions and findings. It is the experts who testify about the defects, damages and repair, not the homeowner. The experts are a vital component of every construction defect case, who are carefully selected and chosen by Timothy Norton to fit the specific and particular needs of your case. Every case is different, and some cases may require experts in specific areas, such as geotechnical or structural, or mechanical and HVAC, while other cases may be more focused on overall general contractor areas of expertise. With 34 years of experience selecting and handling experts, Timothy Norton is highly qualified to select the experts best suited to your case.
Fraud occurs in construction cases more than one might think. Very often, lack of quality control, deviations from the plans and poor workmanship are the result of conscious and deliberate decisions by individuals in charge to cut costs, save money and pass the defects which are hidden and concealed within the structure, on to the buyer-owner, who has no awareness of the defects. When circumstances arise that point to fraud and concealment, Norton & Associates pursues these claims vigorously, and uses these claims to confront and pressure target individual defendants into settlement and eventual trial on the merits. Many attorneys shy away from fraud claims, or dismiss them as unprovable or worthless. Not us. If there’s fraud and deceit in a transaction or construction project, we pursue these claims vigorously and without reservation.
One issue that comes up very frequently in construction defect litigation is the so called “Right of Repair” law in California, which under certain specific circumstances gives the builder a right to repair the defects before a lawsuit can be filed. However, this law only applies to new home sales and new construction, not remodels or additions, and applies only where the builder strictly complies with the notice requirements of the law. The notice requirements require that the builder include a notice in the purchase agreement of the right of repair, include a notice in the title to the property, attach the full text of the statute to the purchase documents and instruct the buyer to notify subsequent buyers of the notice. If the builder fails in any or all of these, the buyer-homeowner is free to file a lawsuit. Many builders and attorneys are not aware of these requirements, and insist on a right or repair when the builder is not entitled to such a right. This seriously affects your rights as a homeowner, and must evaluated at the outset.
In summary, have Timothy Norton, an experienced attorney evaluate your construction defect case, even one that has been filed by another attorney, to learn what your rights are, to receive experienced and proven representation and advice, and to take the necessary steps to protecting your investment.
Call Timothy Norton today for a case evaluation: 310.706.4134 or write to: [email protected].