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Judicial Advocacy
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  California Supreme Court

Through our Legal Action Subcommittee and staff, CALPASC follows judicial matters closely to ensure that the trade contractor's position in California is represented and considered. CALPASC reviews and considers involvement with court cases that have a significant, precedent-setting impact on our members or the construction industry in general.

The Effect of Case Law on Trade Contractors

Laws and regulations are continually being added or changed by legislatures and regulatory agencies. Part of CALPASC’s core mission is to ensure these new or revised laws and regulations are not detrimental to our industry and membership. It is the courts, however, that interpret what those laws and regulations actually mean and where the true impact can be determined. Therefore, CALPASC wages battle on behalf of the industry in the judicial arena, most usually at the appellate level. We work to help assure that court cases, especially at the appellate level, result in common sense and fairness. Sometimes disappointing outcomes in the legislature or the regulatory arena give way to a victory in the judicial environment.

What are the Issues

Many laws and regulations are promoted by special interest groups, who have their own best interests in mind. Within the construction industry, there are always disputes on what is fair and equitable transference of risk. CALPASC has been successful in passing legislation aimed at ensuring that this risk is not unfairly placed on the trades. That said, court cases can have a huge impact on the application of those laws.

The construction industry as whole has many opponents who desire to limit or even punish the construction industry for trying to build a better future. Many appellate court justices have been appointed by officials unfriendly to business, or have very little connection to the realities of construction, or the business world in general. These justices often have a view that insurance is always there to resolve all problems, and continually rule against insurers. Unfortunately, that also means that the construction employers get hurt in that process, with higher insurance rates, or reduced coverage.

We take positions on many of these court cases.

 

How It’s Done

Our best weapon as an association is to issue amicus briefs (Latin for “friend of the court”) in specific appellate court cases. These briefs give more clarity to an issue for the justices, by showing not just the legal argument, but the impact the decision will have on stakeholders such as construction and the trade contractor community. We will issue these briefs all the way up to the State Supreme Court. We look for good fact cases, where a sound ruling will result in fairness and a common sense approach to resolving the problem at hand. These cases then become the precedent for interpreting that section of the law. The highly skilled and specialized attorneys we use in these cases require a great deal of financial resources, but the end results can be dramatically favorable for our industry and help ensure our members’ businesses can survive in California.

Crawford v. Weather Shield

This court case alleges that trade contractors should be held accountable for defending construction defect claims on damages for which they are not responsible. The Crawford v. Weather Shield Opinion is an example of a recent case greatly impacting the industry. click here to read it along with the CALPASC notes.

Other Relevant Cases

Click here for the Judicial Affairs section of the Document Library to learn more about Crawford v. Weather Shield and other relevant cases. (sign in required)


The CALPASC Judicial Advocacy Team

  Our Director of Risk Management, Bruce Wick, coordinates all these activities on behalf of CALPASC.  We have a Legal Action Committee that reviews potential cases, and makes recommendations to the CALPASC State Board of Directors regarding filing amicus briefs.  
 Bruce Wick  

 

How can a member help? 

Continue membership in CALPASC, encourage others to join, and contribute to the CALPASC Legal Defense Fund.  Contact us for more information.

 

Legal Defense Fund

This fund enables CALPASC to use the California courts as a venue to work for improvements to current California law.  Thanks to our Legal Defense Fund and a lot of hard work, we submitted an Amicus Brief to the California Supreme Court in the all-important Crawford v. Weather Shield case described above.

 

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