Utah Attorneys Awarded Summary Judgment in Property Damage Construction Claim
Salt Lake City attorneys Vincent J. Velardo and Thomas J. Rollins recently obtained summary judgment at the Fourth Judicial District Court in Utah County in a case involving a construction company client, as well as a water conservancy district client, both allegedly having caused damage to a homeowners’ property.
From February-June 2018, our clients engaged in construction work involving the installation of pipelines in Utah County near plaintiffs’ home. This construction project was part of the critical water infrastructure and implicated installation of pipelines in several Utah counties. In December 2018, plaintiffs filed the claim alleging their home was damaged by the vibrations from our clients’ work, largely evidenced by cracks in the concrete and drywall. They also claim to have been excessively disturbed in their home as a result of the construction. Plaintiffs sued our clients for negligence, strict liability, nuisance and declaratory judgment, seeking Tier 3 damages in excess of $300,000. However, during litigation, this was narrowed to $25,000 in property damage, $40,000 in loss of marketability and compensation for nuisance.
The Court found that plaintiffs required an expert to demonstrate not only breach of the standard of care, but causation of the alleged damages. Litchfield Cavo LLP attorneys Vince Velardo and Tom Rollins hired a structural engineer expert who declared the vibration from the work could not have physically caused the damage. The expert further testified that the maximum possible ground vibration experienced at plaintiffs’ home as a result of our clients’ construction work was 0.115 in/s, which is considerably below the standard. In fact, the expert stated that the maximum possible ground vibration was “below the 0.25 in/s required to cause even minor damage to the most sensitive historic structures.” The Court agreed and found as a matter of law that both the related construction noise and work was not a nuisance.
Vince focuses his practice on insurance coverage involving first-party property, third-party liability and bad faith claims, as well as contract litigation and unfair competition. He has extensive experience handling client matters for employment liability, professional liability, construction and environmental/toxic torts. Vince has more than 20 years’ experience as a litigator, and has handled a wide variety of matters in both state and federal courts.
Tom focuses his practice on the defense of individuals and entities in construction defect, personal injury and malpractice matters, where he participates in every aspect of litigation. He has experience as second chair attorney in state and federal jury trials, and has presented oral arguments before the Utah State Court of Appeals.