Development in CBF Green Building Case in Maryland

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for...

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember that case I discussed a while back relating to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) building in Annapolis, Maryland? Remember how it was a lawsuit over parallams and failure of those parallams? Do you even remember what a parallam is?

Well, that case was initially dismissed upon the Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment because the trial court determined that CBF did not file its lawsuit within the proper time frame after notice of the potential failure of the building materials. Of course, CBF appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals under the caption The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Inc., et. al. v. Weyerhaeuser Company (4th Circuit).

After a great review of the facts of the case, the engineering inspections and reports at issue and the trial court’s ruling, the Fourth Circuit vacated the dismissal and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court of Appeals reasoned that the district court jumped the gun in dismissing the lawsuit so early in the process because:

a genuine dispute exists as to whether knowledge of the water infiltration problem would have put a reasonable person on notice that the Parallams were susceptible to premature deterioration and that their PolyClear 2000 treatment would not preserve them.

In short, the court ruled that the engineering reports relating to moisture issues would have put CBF on notice of the particular issue of deterioration that was at issue in the litigation.

The good news for all of us looking to see how a lawsuit relating to “green” materials turns out is that this case may actually get a ruling (assuming no settlement). As a construction attorney that has discussed some of the risks of green building here at Construction Law Musings, I am curious to find out how this case resolves.

I’ll keep you posted as I hear more on this or other sustainable building issues.

UPDATE: The case has come to an end and been settled.

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8 Responses to Development in CBF Green Building Case in Maryland
  1. Brian L Hill
    Twitter:
    August 4, 2014 | 11:02 AM

    Thanks for the update, Chris! I agree with you – let’s hope that we can get a ruling to add further clarification.

  2. Christopher G. Hill
    Twitter:
    August 4, 2014 | 11:21 AM

    Thanks for checking in Brian. I am hopeful that this will lead to some clarity.
    Christopher G. Hill recently posted..Even with LEED, Clear Specifications and Proper Documentation are NecessaryMy Profile

  3. howard i. littman - forensic architect
    August 4, 2014 | 5:32 PM

    Chris, it’s always helpful to see updates… but I’m not sure why this is being categorized under ‘green construction’ issues. From the recap, the only contested issue is one of ‘date of patent discovery v. statute deadline’ and would apply regardless of whether the building or products are considered greed, red or polka-dot. The question of whether the reasonable owner knew (or should have known) the moisture could cause deterioration (based on the report of water intrusion) does not appear to be ‘green-specific. Am I missing something?

  4. howard i. littman - forensic architect
    August 4, 2014 | 5:34 PM

    …one should never be in a rush… “green”, not “greed”

  5. Christopher G. Hill
    Twitter:
    August 5, 2014 | 9:18 AM

    Howard,

    You haven’t missed anything. While this case involves sustainable building and the risk of new construction materials, the basic issues are still the same regardless of the overlay of sustainable (or “green”) construction.
    Christopher G. Hill recently posted..Should a General Contractor Tell a Sub that its Bid is Too Low?My Profile

  6. […] a week ago, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s “parallam” lawsuit. Since that unpublished […]

  7. […] the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s “parallam” lawsuit, [enhanced version available […]

  8. […] Friend of More From Less, lawyer/mediator Chris Hill posted a very important update in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s ongoing saga: […]

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About Musings

I am a construction lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, a LEED AP, and have been nominated by my peers to Virginia's Legal Elite in Construction Law on multiple occasions. I provide advice and assistance with mechanic's liens, contract review and consulting, occupational safety issues (VOSH and OSHA), and risk management for construction professionals.

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