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Hettle v. Construction Contractors Board

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 12-18-2013
Case #: A142840
Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A142840.pdf

Contract Law: Under ORS 701.140, “improper work” can be characterized as work not suited to the circumstances under which it was performed. To recover economic damages in negligence, the “economic loss” doctrine requires the existence of a heightened standard of care, such as one arising out of special relationship or statute.

Buyer sought review of a final order by the Construction Contractors Board (“board”) that dismissed his complaint for failing to state a claim for relief for negligent or improper work pursuant to ORS 701.140. Buyer negotiated with seller to purchase a home. After an inspection that noted potential water damage to windows, buyer and seller entered into an addendum in which the parties agreed that seller would remove moss on the roof and have a contractor look at and repair the water damaged windows. Seller contracted with Lundstrom to clean the roof and gutters, and asked Lundstrom to take a look at the water damaged areas. Seller did not show Lundstrom the inspection report that alleged water damage, nor the addendum. Lundstrom wrote a letter to seller that in his opinion, there was no substantial water damage in either window. Buyer purchased the home, and both windows leaked water. On appeal, buyer argued that the board erred in finding that Lundstrom’s work was not improper, and not negligent under ORS 701.140. “Improper work” can be characterized as work that was not suited to the circumstances under which the work was performed. Lundstrom was hired to clean moss from the roof and gutters, and his performance of that work was not improper. Under the “economic loss” doctrine, to recover economic damages in negligence, buyer must demonstrate the existence of a special relationship between him and Lundstrom. Here, no special relationship existed. Affirmed.