The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently confirmed what many Pennsylvania trial courts and practitioners had already concluded: "remote" purchasers of residential homes may sue the original builder of the home for certain construction defects. Builders often have argued - sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully - that only the original purchaser of a home can sue the builder because only the original purchaser is in so-called "privity" with the builder (in other words, the builder's agreement is with the original purchaser only and the builder made promises to the original purchaser only). The Superior Court rejects this argument in this new case (Conway v. The Cutler Group, Inc.).
The Superior Court found that any person who buys a home (not just the original buyer) reasonably assumes that the builder constructed a sound, habitable home. If this assumption turns out to be untrue, any purchaser, whether the original purchaser or the second, third, or even fourth, may have a claim against the builder for breach of the implied warranty of habitability.
This is a significant case for homeowners' rights in Pennsylvania. We expect to see more residential construction defect claims as a result of this opinion.
Not all is lost for residential builders though, as the Pennsylvania statute of repose remains in effect and cuts off any liability for a builder's original construction at 12 years. It remains the law that any claim for defects in original construction, regardless of the plaintiff, must be made within 12 years of original construction.
Let us know what you think about this development in the law.