The Ongoing Tension Over Class Actions and Statistical Evidence and the Significance for Residential Developers and Builders

For developers and builders of single-family communities and multi-family housing, an increasingly common tactic is for plaintiffs’ counsel to assert a class action, a procedural device that allows one person to sue on behalf of related persons who are not parties to the lawsuit. Plaintiffs’ counsel then relies on statistical extrapolation from limited inspections of a few homes or units to prove liability and damages.  For example, a plaintiff’s expert may inspect three residences in a subdivision of one hundred single family homes, find water intrusion around windows in those three residences, and reach a conclusion that the windows and associated flashing must be removed and replaced in all one hundred homes.

The statistical extrapolation also occurs at each building inspected.  For example, a plaintiff’s expert may perform test cuts at three locations on a building, find water intrusion, and conclude the entire exterior veneer must be replaced.  In addition to making a statistically questionable generalized conclusion from a small sample, plaintiff’s experts also exhibit a selection bias by choosing for their sample those residences, units, or test locations they believe are most likely to exhibit damages.  Among the many problems this tactic creates for developers and builders are the weaknesses of using statistical methods in this manner and the inevitable pressure defendants feel to settle when faced with a large class action claim even if the plaintiff’s claims are very weak. Continue Reading

South Carolina Office of the State Engineer Publishes Notice of Intent to Adopt 2015 ICC Codes for State Buildings

The Office of the State Engineer proposed adopting the following building codes for state buildings which would take effect on July 1, 2016:

  • International Building Code (IBC), 2015 Edition
  • International Existing Building Code (IEBC), 2015 Edition
  • International Fire Code (IFC), 2015 Edition
  • International Fuel Gas Code (IFGC), 2015 Edition
  • International Mechanical Code (IMC), 2015 Edition
  • International Plumbing Code (IPC), 2015Edition
  • International Private Sewage Disposal Code (IPSDC), 2015 Edition
  • International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC), 2015 Edition,
  • International Residential Code for One and Two Family Dwellings (IRC), 2015 Edition
  • International Wildland – Urban Interface Code (IUWIC), 2015 Edition
  • International Code Council Performance Code (ICCPC), 2015 Edition
  • International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC), 2015 Edition
  • National Electrical Code (NEC) [NFPA-70], 2014 Edition

South Carolina State Register, Vol. 40, No. 3, at 7 (March 25, 2016).

The new code editions will replace the 2012 edition of most of these codes as the applicable code for state buildings as set out in section 5.1.3(E) of the 2015 Manual for Planning and Execution of State Permanent Improvements. For a quick overview of the significant new provisions and modifications to existing provisions, see http://www.iccsafe.org/about-icc/periodicals-and-newsroom/key-changes-in-the-2015-international-codes-i-codes.

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