Appeal from the 129th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 2013-73216
consists of Justices Christopher, Jamison, and Donovan.
Hill Jamison Justice.
appeal concerns statutory construction of a provision of the
Residential Construction Liability Act (RCLA). See
Tex. Prop. Code §§ 27.001-.007. The named plaintiff
and appellant, Vision 20/20, Ltd.,  sued appellee Cameron
Builders, Inc., alleging that a construction defect in a home
built by Cameron resulted in significant damages. The trial
court granted summary judgment favoring Cameron based on the
notice provisions of RCLA section 27.003(a)(2). Concluding
that none of appellant's arguments support reversal under
the circumstances presented, we affirm.
is a partnership owned by members of a family. In 2005,
Cameron built a home for Vision that certain family members
then inhabited. In December 2011, a plumbing failure in an
upstairs bathroom allegedly caused significant water damage
at the home, both to the structure itself and to furnishings
and other personal possessions. The family members moved out
of the home, and remediation and repair efforts began. A
family member spoke to Cameron's president about the
water damage in December 2011 and January 2012. On March 2,
2012, Rimkus Consulting, which had been hired by Vision's
insurer, Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, London, reported
that the water damage was the result of the failure of a hot
water supply lavatory connector which was improperly routed
March 8, 2013, after all remediation and repair efforts at
the home had been completed, an attorney representing Lloyds
sent a demand letter to Cameron, asserting that Cameron was
responsible for the water damage and that the total amount of
the resulting damages was $207, 701.05. Cameron denied
liability and the present lawsuit, naming Vision as
plaintiff, was filed.
petition raised negligence, breach of warranty, and
violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act causes
of action. Damages were sought for both the cost of repairing
the real property damage as well as for the value of damaged
personal property. Cameron later filed a third-party claim
against the plumbing subcontractor who allegedly installed
the water supply line that had failed. Cameron filed a motion
for summary judgment asserting, among other things, that
Vision's claims were barred by operation of RCLA section
27.003(a)(2). The trial court granted the motion as to the
claims for damages related to real property but denied it as
to the claims related to personal property. The trial court
specifically based its grant of summary judgment on section
27.003(a)(2). Subsequently, Vision nonsuited its claims for
personal property damages, and Cameron nonsuited its claims
against the third-party plumbing contractor. The summary
judgment therefore was rendered final, and this appeal
review de novo a trial court's grant of summary judgment.
See Mann Frankfort Stein & Lipp Advisors, Inc. v.
Fielding, 289 S.W.3d 844, 848 (Tex. 2009). In a
traditional motion for summary judgment, such as was granted
here, the movant has the burden of establishing that there is
no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id.
(citing Tex.R.Civ.P. 166a(c)). We consider all the evidence
in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, crediting
evidence favorable to the nonmovant if reasonable jurors
could, and disregarding contrary evidence unless reasonable
jurors could not. See id.
parties agree that this case is governed by the RCLA. The
RCLA modifies claims for damages resulting from construction
defects in residences by limiting and controlling causes of
action that otherwise exist. E.g., Gentry v. Squires
Constr., Inc., 188 S.W.3d 396, 404 (Tex. App.-Dallas
2006, no pet.). The RCLA does not create a cause of action
but provides defenses and limitations on damages. E.g.,
id. The RCLA also sets forth notice provisions.
Id. The purpose of the notice requirements is to
encourage pre-suit negotiations to avoid the expense of
litigation. In re Wells, 252 S.W.3d 439, 448 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2008, orig. proceeding).
trial court expressly based its grant of summary judgment on
RCLA section 27.003(a)(2), which states in relevant part:
if . . . a person subrogated to the rights of a claimant
fails to provide the contractor with the written notice and
opportunity to inspect and offer to repair required by
Section 27.004 . . . before performing repairs, the
contractor is not liable for the cost of any repairs or any
percentage of damages caused by repairs made to a
construction defect at the request of . . . a person
subrogated to the rights of a claimant by a person other than
the contractor or an agent, employee, or subcontractor of the
Tex. Prop. Code § 27.003(a)(2). The referenced section
27.004 contains many requirements, but relative to section
27.003(a)(2), it requires a claimant to notify a contractor
in writing of a "construction defect" that the
claimant claims caused damages and to permit the contractor
to inspect the ...