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Dec 3, 2020

Baker Sterchi Obtains Dismissal from the Bench for Architect Client

Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice recently obtained a dismissal for an architect client in a breach of contract action related to a construction project. We presented and argued a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint in a Kansas District Court on the basis that the Plaintiff (Project Owner) lacked privity of contract with our client and there was no common law duty of an architect to the Plaintiff for purely economic damages.

In the underlying case, our client had reviewed and stamped architectural drawings submitted for code approval and used by the co-defendant to build the project.  Our client was not part of the contract with the Project Owner to administer the construction contract or otherwise supervise the construction. The Project Owner alleged our client owed a duty to review pay applications and change orders on the project, even though it had no contract, and further alleged that our client’s failure to do so resulted in the denial of more than $250,000 in payment.

Rather than file an Answer, we filed a Motion to Dismiss based on K.S.A. 60-212. The Court heard arguments from both parties for close to an hour before ruling from the Bench to dismiss all claims against our client and further declining to extend the noted exception that a Plaintiff need not have privity to sue an architect for the performance of their professional duties in the case of personal injuries and wrongful death. In doing so, the Court continued and reaffirmed the precedence that holds if a Plaintiff does not have privity with an architect, there is no duty to a Plaintiff for purely economic damages caused by either property damage or alleged breaches of contract by other parties involved in the construction or administration of a project.

This ruling effectively shut the door on liability claims against design professionals for economic damages, even when not under contract, for simply sealing/stamping their product.