Turning the Tables on the Trial Lawyers

Chris Palmeri

Suing home builders has become a cottage industry in many parts of the country. It's easy to understand from a trial lawyer's perspective. Find one alleged problem and you can quickly sign up the whole development. This trend has been dealt a blow by a recent ruling in Orange County, however. Nineteen homeowners in Mission Viejo who had sued National Ready Mixed Services Co. for allegedly supplying defective foundations have not only lost their case, they've been ordered to pay nearly $500,000 of the defendant's $2.2 million in court costs.

The homeowners had asked for $5 million in damages. Judge David C. Velasquez of the Orange County Superior Court ruled that they failed to demonstrate that the defendants had supplied defective concrete or that the concrete had even been damaged by sulfates in the soil.

This is only the second known instance in California of plaintiffs being ordered to pay a defendant's court costs in a construction defect trial in the past 15 years. Similar cases are being contested in San Diego and Scottsdale, Arizona.

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