Procedural Posture

Plaintiff property owners sought review from a decision of the Superior Court of Ventura County (California), which rendered judgment in favor of defendants, water company, engineers, and developer, after a fire burned plaintiffs’ home and plaintiffs filed suit for breach of contract and negligence.

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Overview

Plaintiff property owners challenged a judgment rendered in favor of defendants, water company, engineers, and developer, after a fire burned plaintiffs’ home to the ground and they filed suit for breach of contract to furnish water and in negligence. The court held that California case law immunized water companies from civil liability for loss by fire due to failure to maintain their systems properly. However, this immunity did not extend to the developer or the engineers and the court found that these defendants were liable in negligence. The court further held that where the primary objective of a transaction was to obtain services, the doctrines of implied warranty and strict liability did not apply as to defendant developer and engineers. The judgment in favor of defendant water company was affirmed. The judgment in favor of defendant developer and engineers on negligence was reversed. The case was remanded to the trial court.

Outcome

The judgment for defendant water company was affirmed and the judgment for defendant developer and engineers on negligence was reversed when plaintiff property owners filed suit against defendants after a fire burned their home. The court held that the law immunized water companies from civil liability for loss by fire but this immunity did not extend to developers or engineers, and they were not subject to the doctrine of strict liability.