The New Jersey Tort Claims Act (the “TCA” or the “Act”) provides that “a public entity is not liable for an injury” caused by an act or omission “[e]xcept as otherwise provided by this act.” N.J.S.A. 59:2-1a. Under the TCA, immunity is the rule and liability is the exception. The TCA defines public entities to include counties and municipalities, and therefore townships also fall within the scope of the TCA. N.J.S.A. 59:1-3.

One relevant exception to the general rule of immunity covers dangerous conditions on public property. N.J.S.A. 59:4-2. That section provides:

A public entity is liable for injury caused by a condition of its property if the plaintiff establishes that the property was in dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred, and that either:

(a) a negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the public entity within the scope of his employment created the dangerous condition; or
(b) a public entity had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition under section 59:4-3 a sufficient time prior to the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition.

Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose liability upon a public entity for a dangerous condition of its public property if the action the entity took to protect against the condition or the failure to take such action was not palpably unreasonable.

[N.J.S.A. 59:4-2.]

Chapter 4 of the Act, specifically N.J.S.A. 59:4-2, imposes liability on a public entity for injury caused by a condition of its property if the plaintiff establishes that the property was in dangerous condition at the time of the injury, that the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition, and that the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury incurred. The plaintiff must also establish that the public entity was responsible either through its employees for creating the dangerous condition or had actual or constructive notice of the condition sufficiently before the injury to have taken measures to protect against the dangerous condition, provided that the entity will not be liable if the action taken to protect against the condition was not “palpably unreasonable.” N.J.S.A. 59:4-1(a) defines “dangerous condition” as “a condition of property that creates a substantial risk of injury when such property is used with due care in a manner in which it is reasonably foreseeable that it will be used.”

The TCA defines “public property” as property that is “owned or controlled by the public entity.” N.J.S.A. 59:4-1c. However, liability is not limited to an event occurring on public property. In fact, our Supreme Court has concluded that public entities may be liable for creating a dangerous condition on private property that is under the “control” of the public entities.

Nevertheless, whether a dangerous condition exists is ultimately a question for the jury. In order for plaintiffs to be successful at trial, they must not only prove that public property created a dangerous condition, but that the condition created a foreseeable risk of the kind of injury that occurred, that the condition proximately caused the injury and that the action the public entities took to protect against the dangerous condition or the failure to take such action was palpably unreasonable. The term “palpably unreasonable” connotes “behavior that is patently unacceptable under any given circumstance.” A dangerous condition under the TCA relates to the physical condition of the property itself and not to activities on the property. See Roe ex rel. M.J. v. New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, Inc., 317 N.J. Super. 72 (App. Div. 1998), certif. denied, 160 N.J. 89 (1999) (held that a permanently bolted-open gate on New Jersey Transit’s property constituted a dangerous condition under N.J.S.A. 59:4-2 because it invited the public to enter a high-crime area).

The law in New Jersey is such that a public entity is not liable for an injury caused by the issuance, denial, suspension or revocation of, or by the failure or refusal to issue, deny, suspend or revoke, any permit, license, certificate, approval, order, or similar authorization where the public entity or public employee is authorized by law to determine whether or not such authorization should be issued, denied, suspended or revoked.

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 59:2-3, “(a) a public entity is not liable for an injury resulting from the exercise of judgment or discretion vested in the entity; (b) a public entity is not liable for legislative or judicial action or inaction or administrative action or inaction of a legislative or judicial nature.” Determining whether governmental action is discretionary for the purposes of the Tort Claims Act generally depends upon whether the decision is a high level policy decision. Generally high level policy decisions classified as discretionary acts involve planning, and are distinct from ministerial acts, which pertain merely to operations and which are not immunized.

A ministerial act has been defined as “one which a person performs in a given state of facts in a prescribed manner in obedience to the mandate of legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety of the act being done.” Thus, it has been determined that decisions of planning boards and boards of health are discretionary because planning boards and boards of health do not simply perform in a given manner without the exercise of their own judgment, their actions cannot be deemed ministerial. While it is true that once certain facts have been established, a planning board is mandated to act in a certain way, however, the board uses discretion in weighing the credibility of witnesses and evidence presented when making findings of fact. Therefore, the decisions of planning boards and boards of health, to issue permits or authorize subdivisions, for example, are the types that are afforded immunity. See N.J.S.A. 59:2-5.

This immunity is necessitated by the almost unlimited exposure to which public entities would otherwise be subject if they were liable for the numerous occasions on which they issue, deny or suspend permits and licenses. In addition, most actions of this type by a public entity can be challenged through an existing administrative or judicial review process.

As the comment to N.J.S.A. 59:2-5 describes, the TCA has been interpreted to grant immunity to all phases of the licensing function, whether or not the act was classified as discretionary or ministerial. See Malloy v. State, 76 N.J. 515 (1978). Therefore, any allegations that a planning board negligently granted site plan approval or a licensing board wrongly issued a permit, would more likely than not fall within the purview of the immunizing provisions of the Act.

Whether you are a general contractor, a sub-contractor, or a supplier, those in the construction industry are are uniquely aware of the difficulty of coming by work in these harsh economic times. You are also equally aware that even though work may be available, receiving payment from the owner, the general contractor, or the sub-contractor can be a difficult task. The purpose of this blog is to discuss the best way to ensure that not only does the project proceed properly, but also, that you receive payment for your work and/or materials.

If you are in the position of a general contractor, the most important thing for you to do is to not allow the owner to get too far ahead of you when it comes to payment. Obviously, it is typical that invoices or payment applications require payment within 30 days. A good suggestion, however, would be to request an amendment for the contract to require payment within two weeks. As a general contractor, although a project may be appearing to proceed smoothly, it is suggested that you closely monitor the timing of payment from the project owner. Although you may not wish to disturb the project owner, as long as you are cordial they will understand your concerns about payment.

You can manage this by threatening to stop work if the payments are not timely rendered, as well as memorializing all issues with the timing of payment. As you should be aware, you can only file Construction Liens within 90 days from the last date you provided materials or services. As such, you should always remember that should the project stall or should the project owner claim financial issues that you should timely file the Lien. Although the goal is to complete the project, your principal goal is to get paid for the work that you have completed to date.

If you assume the role of a sub-contractor or supplier, it is important that you not allow the general contractor get too far ahead of you, just as a general contractor cannot allow an owner to get too far ahead of him. Although you may not want to disturb the balance between you and the general contractor, it is suggested that if payment issues arise that you document those issues with a letter to the general contractor, which you can provide a copy to the project owner. This way, if the project owner is unaware of payment issues, Joint Check Agreements can be worked out to ensure payment. Once again, you must be aware of the Construction Lien laws and your right to file a Lien. Your right to file a Lien is dependent upon whether or not you are a first tier sub-contractor or supplier or a second tier. This designation is dictated by the Lien statute. As a practical matter, like a general contractor, one of the best approaches to ensure payment is to not allow the general contractor to get too far ahead of you. Although the goal is to complete the project, like a general contractor your goal is to ensure you get paid for the work you performed.

Hopefully, this short little guide will provide you some guidance in ensuring that you are paid for the work you perform in these difficult economic times, as increasingly project owners and general contractors are finding financing issues while in the midst of a project due to nervous banks or other financial institutions. If you have questions regarding the above blog post, feel free to contact me in my firm’s Lawrenceville, New Jersey office to discuss this matter in more detail.

On Monday, November 15th, 2010, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated decision in the controversial case of Dean v. Barrett Homes, Inc., 406 N.J. Super. 453 (App. Div. 2009), cert. granted, 200 N.J. 207, 976 (2009). The contested issue in Dean was whether the economic loss doctrine, a judicial construct which bars recovery in tort for damage a product causes only to itself, applied to bar a homeowner’s tort claim for a defective exterior finishing system installed on their home during construction. The salient question the Supreme Court had to answer was whether a home built with the exterior siding product, in this case manufactured by defendant Sto Corporation (“Sto”), was considered the “product itself” for purposes of delineating Sto’s tort liability. If the exterior siding product was considered to be fully integrated into the home, then home purchasers would be precluded from pursuing products liability relief against manufacturers of allegedly defective products permanently affixed to the outside of the home, for damage those products caused to the home. In a triumph for home purchasers, innocent builders and developers, the Supreme Court held that Sto’s exterior finishing product, Exterior Insulation and Finish System (“EIFS”), was a separate product from, and not fully integrated into, plaintiffs’ home. A cause of action, therefore, exists against Sto to the extent that its EIFS product caused damage to the house or its structural components.

The New Jersey Products Liability Act (the “Act”) creates a tort cause of action against a manufacturer or seller of a defective product. N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-2. However, the Act specifically limits recovery to the harm done to people or property, other than the product itself. N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-1b(2). If a defective product causes damage exclusively to itself, the loss is said to be strictly “economic” and the claimant does not have a cause of action in tort. Thus, the judicial construct known as the “economic loss rule” was embodied by the legislature in the Act and serves to bar tort remedies in strict liability or negligence when the only claim is for damage to the product itself. See Spring Motors Distribs., Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 98 N.J. 555 (1985).

In Dean, the plaintiffs, Robert, Jennifer, and Mary Sue Dean, purchased a home in 2002 from its original owners. The home had been built with EIFS. Prior to closing, plaintiffs hired a home inspector to conduct an investigation. The inspection report raised some concerns regarding the EIFS siding. Later, plaintiffs learned that their insurer would not transfer their existing homeowner’s policy to the new property, allegedly because of the EIFS. Nonetheless, plaintiffs purchased the home and moved in. About one year after moving in, they started noticing black lines on the exterior of their home and consequently hired an industrial hygienist to inspect their house. The industrial hygienist found toxic mold that he attributed to leaks from the EIFS. Plaintiffs eventually had all of the EIFS cladding removed and replaced. In May 2004, plaintiffs filed suit against multiple defendants including Sto Corp., the manufacturer of the EIFS. As the case progressed, plaintiffs settled with all of the defendants except Sto. Sto moved for summary judgment, which the Court granted, reasoning that the EIFS was so integrated into the home that the home itself was the product and any damage to its structural elements was strictly an economic loss. In other words, the Court used the integrated product doctrine to conclude that the attachment of the EIFS to the home made the home itself the “product” at issue and then relied on the economic loss rule to bar plaintiffs’ tort claim against Sto because their cause of action only alleged damage to their house, the “product”. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. Appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court followed.

The Supreme Court granted certification to decide first, whether it will adopt the integrated product doctrine and, if so, whether the EIFS was sufficiently integrated into plaintiffs’ home that the economic loss rule bars any recovery for damages to the EIFS or to the home. The Court reasoned that “a product that is merely attached to or included as part of the structure is not necessarily considered to be an integrated part thereof”, particularly in the case of homes. Noting that California courts have declined to apply the integrated product doctrine to products used in building houses, the Court concluded that the affixed EIFS did not become a fundamental part of the house structure itself, and at all times was distinct from the house. Holding that the EIFS was a separate and distinct product from the home itself, the Court concluded that the economic loss rule precluded plaintiffs from recovering for damage to the EIFS itself i.e. cost of replacement, however, they were not precluded from recovering for damage “the EIFS caused to the house’s structure or to its environs.” Thus, “to the extent that the EIFS caused damage to the structure of the house or its immediate environs,” plaintiffs retained a viable cause of action against Sto, the product’s manufacturer.

In a Per Curiam decision, the Appellate Division recently reversed a Trial Judge’s order dismissing several Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”) claims against the developer of a condominium development and the general contractor for allegedly having filed false affidavits of title in the course of selling several units.

The CFA claims concerned defendants Paxton Construction (Jon Paxton, principal), the general contractor, and Cresse Development, LLC, the owner and developer of the condominium construction project. Cresse had sold units to three residential buyers and a commercial unit to Park Place Management in 2005. Prior to closing, Cresse conveyed to the buyers an affadavit of title signed by Paxton, representing among other things that “[n]o judgment or other lien … has been filed against [the property]” as well as attesting “that there were no pending lawsuits or judgments against it … [that] may be enforced against the property.” Despite these representations, Cresse had not paid a subcontractor, ABJ Sprinkler Co. (“ABJ”), for its work, and as a result, ABJ filed a construction lien against the property. Moreover, in his deposition, Paxton admitted that at the time the affadavits were signed, he knew that there was an ongoing dispute between Cresse and ABJ over the amount of money owed for the sprinkler work.

The CFA prohibits both affirmative misrepresentations and knowing omissions that are made with the intent that others rely upon the misrepresentations or omissions. Under the CFA, acts of omission must be knowing and committed with intent to induce reliance. However, affirmative acts, including misrepresentation of material facts, do not require proof of intent to mislead. In this case, the Appellate Court did not hesitate in concluding that Paxton’s affadavits of title were in fact issued to induce the buyers to complete the purchases of the units. As a result, the owners had established a prima facie violation of the CFA and were entitled to default judgment on that claim.

Consequently, because the buyers established a CFA violation, the Appellate Court reversed the order on appeal and remanded the matter to the trial court to address the issues of damages and counsel fees under the CFA.

Donald B. Brenner, Chair of Stark & Stark’s Construction Litigation Group, presented a seminar at the 2010 New Jersey Cooperator Expo. The expo was held in Secaucus, New Jersey on May 5, 2010. Mr. Brenner presented a seminar entitled, Legal and Legislative Update: Important Decisions, New Laws, and how they Impact Your HOA, Condo. and/or Co-Op, in conjunction with Stark & Stark Community Association Group Co-Chairs, David J. Byrne and A. Christopher Florio.

Mr. Brenner discussed two key Appellate Division decisions published in 2009, both of which relate to the ‘economic loss doctrine’ and homeowners’ claims against sellers of defective building materials that were incorporated into the construction of their homes (Marrone v. Greer & Polman Constr. Inc., 405 N. J. Super. 288 (App. Div. 2009) & Dean v. Barrett Homes, Inc., 406 N. J. Super. 453 (App. Div. 2009)) Mr. Byrne discussed the United States Fair Housing Act and a recent decision regarding its application to ‘companion animals’. Mr. Florio discussed two recent cases involving the fiduciary duties of board members and the business judgment rule.

You can listen to the full presentation online here.

Lloyd Medley, chief judge of Orleans Parish Civil District Court, stated that the policy exclusions that insurers have commonly been using to deny claims for drywall damage don’t apply. Medley told Audubon Insurance Co. that the three items in its policy that the company had used to deny the homeowners insurance claim that New Orleans residents Simon and Rebecca Finger had made did not apply. The ruling is good news for any Louisiana homeowner whose house was constructed with defective Chinese drywall.

You can read more on this story online here.

If you suspect your home may be built with defective Chinese drywall, contact us here for a free no obligation case review.

Stark & Stark recently joined forces with the consumer advocacy group, Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings (HADD), to file an amicus curiae brief urging the New Jersey Supreme Court to uphold a homeowner’s right to pursue tort remedies against manufacturers of defective building components in Dean v. Barrett Homes, Inc., 406 N.J.Super. 453, 202 (2009) cert. granted, 200 N.J. 207, 976 (2009). Oral argument was heard on January 4 of this year; a decision has yet to issue. Dean centers upon the interaction between, on the one hand, a judicial construct known as the “economic loss doctrine,” which bars the tort recovery of “purely economic loss,” and, on the other, the New Jersey Product Liability Act (the “Act” or “NJPLA”), N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-1 to –7, which prescribes a statutory remedy for “harm caused by a product.” N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-1. Recently, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals had occasion to address that interaction in Travelers Indem. Co. v. Dammann & Co., Inc., — F.3d —-, 2010 WL 395915 (3d Cir. 2010). Although, factually, Travelers arose in a context that is distinguishable from Dean (the former involved a commercial sale of defective goods, the latter a consumer transaction in residential realty), the Third Circuit’s decision of February 5, 2010, predicting how the New Jersey Supreme Court will approach the interplay of judicial policy and legislative enactment, has profound implications for the legislative protection of both consumers and commercial interests alike. In that respect, the decision is deeply troubling.

It is well-settled that the drafting of statutory language to carry out prevailing policy preferences is a legislative, not a judicial, function. Yet, in Travelers, the Third Circuit Court appeared to substitute the judicial policy pronouncements embodied in the economic loss doctrine for the plain language of the NJPLA. At issue was whether a commercial purchaser of a defective product could sue under the NJPLA for “physical damage to property, other than to the product itself,” N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-1(b)(2), when the “other property” damage was a reasonably foreseeable result of a breach at the time of the original contracting. While acknowledging that “the NJPLA clearly permits a plaintiff to pursue a tort remedy in the event of harm to ‘other property,'” Id. at *6, the Third Circuit nevertheless predicted that the New Jersey Supreme Court would apply the common-law construct of the economic loss doctrine to preclude such a recovery. “After surveying the law in other jurisdictions,” the court explained, “we predict that the New Jersey Supreme Court would interpret the doctrine to bar tort claims where a plaintiff seeks economic damages for foreseeable losses for which the plaintiff could have contractually allocated risk[,] . . . without reference to whether the loss stems from damage to ‘the product itself’ or ‘other property.'” Id. at *2, 6 (emphasis added).

Applying this test to the facts before it, the court concluded that the sale of mercury-tainted vanilla beans to International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF), a manufacturer of vanilla extract, did not give rise to a cognizable tort claim against the bean supplier, Dammann & Co., Inc., even though the adulterated beans allegedly caused damage to the other ingredients in the manufacturer’s flavoring extract and the equipment used in the extraction process. The controlling inquiry, the court explained, is “not whether the damage extends beyond the physical dimensions of the purchased product,” but whether the “property damage experienced by the owner. . . was a foreseeable result of a defect at the time the parties contractually determined their respective exposure to risk.” Id. at *8, 9 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The manufacturer’s losses were “purely economic” because, in the court’s assessment, they were “within the contemplation of sophisticated business entities with equal bargaining power and. . . could have been the subject of their negotiations.” Id. at 8. Thus, IFF was precluded from seeking a tort recovery under the doctrine.

The Third Circuit’s holding achieves a result that the New Jersey Supreme Court has time and again admonished courts to avoid-the judicial rewriting of a plainly worded statute. The NJPLA, by its terms, encompasses “any claim or action brought by a claimant for harm caused by a product.” N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-1 (emphasis added), including “physical damage to property other than to the product itself[.]” N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-1(b)(2) (emphasis added). It prescribes a single, statutorily defined theory of recovery for any such claim, adopting, generally, the methods of proof recognized for strict liability in tort. “The language chosen by the Legislature in enacting [the statute] was both expansive and inclusive, encompassing virtually all possible causes of action relating to harms caused by consumer and other products.” In re Lead Paint Litigation, 191 N.J. 405, 436-37 (2007). As the New Jersey Supreme Court recently observed in Rowe v. Hoffman-La Roche, Inc., 189 N.J. 615 (2007), the NJPLA “was intended ‘to establish clear rules with respect to specific matters as to which the decisions of the courts in New Jersey have created uncertainty.'” Id. at 624 (quoting Senate Judiciary Committee, Statement to Senate Committee Substitute for S.B. No. 2805, at 1 (Mar. 23, 1987)).

In Travelers, the Third Circuit gave short shrift to this legislative prerogative. While acknowledging the NJPLA’s remedial purpose of “establish[ing] clear rules” with respect to product liability claims, the court found the Legislature’s efforts wanting. “The statute,” the court opined, “obscures more than it elucidates, especially when juxtaposed with other elements of New Jersey law.” Id. at *15 n. 5. Yet, the only “juxtaposition” presented in the court’s opinion is to extra-jurisdictional case law limiting, or abrogating, the “other property” exception of the economic loss rule. The court readily acknowledged that “[n]o New Jersey court has delineated the contours of ‘the product itself’ and ‘other property'” and that “[n]either the Supreme Court of New Jersey nor any other New Jersey court has directly clarified the interaction between the NJPLA and the economic loss doctrine.” Id. at *3.

Addressing the “apparent tension” between its formulation of the doctrine and the plain language of the NJPLA, the court stated:

It might be argued, of course, that a court is more at liberty to work around a judicially-created doctrine than a legislative act, which a court must do its utmost to respect and enforce. Whatever the merit of that argument, it is not relevant here, as we are not ignoring the NJPLA’s “other property” exception. Instead, we seek to reconcile two seemingly conflicting strains of New Jersey law to the best of our ability given all available, relevant data.

Id. at *15 n. 8. In view of the acknowledged absence of New Jersey precedent directly on point, it is not entirely clear what “seemingly conflicting strains of New Jersey law” informed the court’s construction in this case. Id. However, the effect of that construction is unmistakable; it imposes additional requirements on a statutory remedy where they are not plainly expressed.

The court, evidently, saw “no principled reason. . . why a legislatively-created ‘other property’ exception should be interpreted any differently from its judicially-created counterpart.” Id. at *9. An examination of the statute, however, discloses at least two reasons. First, the presumed “exception” for “other property” is found nowhere in the provisions of the Act. Rather, the Act excepts “damage to the product itself” from the general rule that “physical damage to property” caused by a product is a “harm” actionable in strict liability. N.J.S.A. 2A:58C-1(b)(2). Second, if the Legislature intended to incorporate the judicial construct of the economic loss doctrine, it easily could have done so by including a provision that explicitly forecloses the recovery of purely “economic loss.” A number of state legislatures have done just that in their product liability statutes. See, e.g., R.C. Wa. 7.72.010(6); La. R.S. 9:2800.53(5). The New Jersey Legislature, advisedly, did not.

The Third Circuit’s use of the economic-loss doctrine as a policy-construction tool led it to conclude that “harm” under the NJPLA does not mean what the statute plainly says, but rather is code for the prevailing common-law view of tort damages. New Jersey law, however, presumes that Legislative enactments are written in plain English, not code. Recognizing the consequences of unbridled judicial forays into the legislative sphere, the New Jersey Supreme Court has cautioned courts to “enforce the legislative will as written and not according to some unexpressed intention,” Dacunzo v. Edgye, 19 N.J. 443, 451 (1955), and, further, to avoid “extending judicial doctrines that might dislocate the legislative structure.” Spring Motors Distributors, Inc. v. Ford Motor Company, 98 N.J. 555, 557 (1985).

The Third Circuit’s opinion represents not only a judicial abrogation of a statutory remedy but also a troubling extension of one of the most “quickly and confoundingly expanding legal doctrine[s.]” Paul J. Schwiep, The Economic Loss Rule Outbreak: The Monster That Ate Commercial Torts, Fla. B.J., Nov. 1995, at 34. As one jurist colorfully put it:

Like the ever-expanding, all-consuming alien life form portrayed in the 1958 B-movie classic The Blob, the economic loss doctrine seems to be a swelling globule on the legal landscape of this state.

Grams v. Milk Products, Inc., 283 Wis.2d 511, 540 (2005) (Abrahamson, C.J., dissenting). Previously well-established remedies under the common law have already succumbed to the rapidly expanding doctrine, as demonstrated most recently by the New Jersey Appellate Division’s decision in Dean v. Barrett Homes, Inc., 406 N.J.Super. 453, 202 (2009) cert. granted, 200 N.J. 207, 976 (2009). It now appears that even plainly worded enactments of the Legislature are not immune.

Federal agencies recently released a new set of criteria to help members and inspectors determine whether recent renovations or construction definitively has defective Chinese drywall. Calling it a “preliminary” protocol, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) outlined standards for homes built from 2001-2008, for the first time acknowledging a wider range of possible homes may be affected than the earlier estimates of 2004-2007.

The guidance takes into account visual signs of metal corrosion, evidence of drywall installation in the relevant time period, and the identification of other corroborating evidence or characteristics.

If you suspect your home may be built with defective Chinese drywall, contact us here for a free no obligation case review.

The law firm of Stark & Stark, P.C. has joined forces with Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings (HADD) to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief urging the New Jersey Supreme Court to allow homeowners to pursue tort remedies against manufacturers of defective building components. The case, Dean v. Barrett Homes, Inc., will mark the first time the New Jersey Supreme Court has directly addresses whether and to what extent the so-called economic loss rule, originating in the law of product liability, applies to residential construction. Stark & Stark Construction Litigation attorney, John Randy Sawyer, is representing HADD pro bono as amicus curiae in the appeal. You can read more about the case, and access a PDF copy of the brief, online at Stark & Starks New Jersey Law Blog.