Construction Defect Litigation
We have litigated thousands of homes involved in construction defect cases all over the Southwest. We've handled everything from class action litigation involving product defects alleged in hundreds of thousands of homes all the way down to a single homeowner experiencing problems with their custom home.
GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF OUR PRACTICE
The key to mounting a proper case in construction defect cases is your experts. Construction defect litigation is truly a battle of the experts in most cases. Most homeowners are not really suited to testifying about the cause of the problems in their home, so they rely on their respective experts to call on their education and experience to step in and explain the issues. Throughout our years of litigating these cases, we have encountered virtually every construction defect expert that works in the Southwest. What we've noticed about these experts is that they tend to have a similar way of thinking that spreads across all of their cases. This can tell you a lot about where a case is headed.
Here at MLO, we pride ourselves on using experts that do one thing and one thing only: tell us the truth. We will often have very candid discussions with our experts where we ask them to tell us the good, bad, and ugly of our case. We don't want them to sugarcoat anything, and we make sure they understand that we don't need to be "sold" anything. We'll use them again in future cases as long as they are honest, fair, and reliable. If that means telling us our case is in real trouble, then so be it -- it's better we know now than when we're standing on the court steps in two years.
There's obviously a lot more to litigating construction defect cases than just the experts, but you won't get very far without having a great expert who you can trust.
The ideology for the Muehlbauer Law Office is summed up in the following points:
- Know your case like the back of your hand. Call us anytime with questions and we'll answer them and not just say "we'll get back to you" while we walk down the hall to ask someone else. Unlike larger firms, we don't have junior associates running everything and whispering in our ear - we know our cases inside and out. That's our job.
- Evaluate your case early. Identify the strengths and weaknesses early on and let the client know. Don't be afraid to take a position on an issue and explain why; lawyers don't get hired to write "To Be Determined" in every line of a case evaluation. Use experience and knowledge of the law to give recommendations on a course of action, even if the facts are imperfectly known.
- Get the right experts for the case. We use a different group of experts for different types of cases, and we make calculated determinations on where the money is best spent based on the evaluation of the defects, the insurance coverage, and the opposition's position.
- Manage costs by litigating the case in phases. This means we don't front-load costs or work - we handle each task as necessary, but keep a constant line of communication open with opposing counsel on settlement. This allows you to make sure your case isn't dragging on longer than it needs to and that there will be opportunities to try and resolve the case during each phase.
- Limit motion practice to only those motions that make sense for the case. Don't use a shotgun approach hoping that the judge will like one of your many scattered arguments; focus on only the best arguments and give the judge the best quality brief you can on those issues.
- Keep the client and/or carrier informed in a way that they want. You set the rules on updates, and you let us know how much you want to be involved in the case. Whether you want reports frequently or not will not change how we manage your case. We usually plan on short e-mails for any new developments combined with 120-day reporting for the client or carrier's file but it's all ultimately up to you.