Skip to Content
Righi Fitch Law Group Righi Fitch Law Group
Call Us Today! 602-483-6352

Righi Fitch Law Group Secures Complete Defense Verdict in $7.5M Construction Defect Case

constuction site

Righi Fitch Law Group Partners Rick Righi and Chris Begeman obtained a complete defense verdict in a $7,500,000.00 construction defect case involving claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied warranty of workmanship and indemnity. Rick and Chris represented an international roofing company that installed a spray foam and tile roofing system on 31 commercial buildings owned by an HOA in Glendale Arizona. The HOA claimed that the worked performed by the roofing company was defective and allowed water intrusion into most of the 170 townhomes located throughout the fifty-year-old project. The HOA retained well-known CD experts to establish a claim that the work performed by the contractor altered the original design intent of the roofing system, requiring a complete restoration of the roofing system and building tops to the tune of $7,900,000.00. Attorney’s fees were awardable to the prevailing party. The HOA initially demanded $13,500,000.00. The HOA revised its demand to $7,500,000.00 at mediation. One month before trial, the HOA filed an Offer of Judgment for $3,600,000.00.

Righi Fitch retained MC Consultants’ experts Chad Polivka and Jeff Harris to help establish that the HOA experts’ theory regarding the design intent of the roofing system was wrong, and that the contractor met the contract requirements and industry standards. Messers Polivka and Harris also established a cost of repair liberally favoring the HOA in the range of $118,000.00 to $434,000.00. To flag the case for fee shifting, Rick and Chris countered with a statutory offer and Offer of Judgment for $750,000.00. During the four-week trial, testimony from Chad and Jeff helped Rick and Chris successfully establish that the work performed by the roofing company complied with the contract requirements and standard of care, and that the true cause of the water intrusion related to pre-existing conditions of the buildings outside the scope of work of the contractor. The cost of repair produced by Chad and Jeff allowed Rick and Chris to establish four separate “anchor numbers” for the jury to consider in the event the jury found against the contractor. At closing, the HOA requested that the jury award $7,500,000.00. Mr. Righi focused on the jury instructions and argued that the jury could award anywhere from zero to a “stair-stepped” maximum amount of $443,000.00. The jury returned its defense verdict – finding in favor of the contractor and awarding the HOA nothing – after only two hours of deliberations. Pursuant to the terms of the parties’ contract and Arizona statute, the contractor is the prevailing party and is entitled to its attorneys' fees and costs incurred from the date of the original Complaint.

The defense verdict was the result of two and a half years of hard work and collaboration between Righi Fitch and MC Consultants. Chad Polivka and Jeff Harris performed exceptionally well on the witness stand. Their efforts were instrumental in helping Rick and Chris establish a “path to zero,” and a stair-stepped series of “anchor” values for the jury to consider in the event the jury believed the contractor was at fault. The use of anchor numbers is a debated topic in defense circles, but Righi Fitch and MC Consultants proved that the value of anchors goes beyond providing the jury with options – it helps to establish credibility – something we are convinced the jury factored into its decision to find in favor of the defense.

The verdict was also influenced by the magnificent work of Righi Fitch paralegal Stacey Wright and Digilaw founder Doreen Myles, who helped Rick and Chris manage close to 500 exhibits and over 10,000 pages of documents. Doreen’s coordinated displays of exhibits, transcript testimony and power points throughout trial were invaluable to keep the Judge and Jury engaged and the content organized and understandable. After trial, the jury specifically commented on how much they appreciated Doreen’s work. The use of trial technology is an invaluable tool and something the attorneys at Righi Fitch believe should be a central part of any trial presentation.

If you are interested in learning more about the use of anchor numbers or trial technology to defend cases at jury trial, please do not hesitate to contact Rick Righi; Chris Begeman; Beth Fitch; or any of the trial attorneys at Righi Fitch.