The California Court of Appeal on December 13, 2012, issued an opinion which is harmful to design professionals performing services in this state, broadening their exposure to claims brought by third-party purchasers of properties which they design. Unless the case, Beacon Residential Community Association v. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP, et al. (“Beacon”), is overturned by the California Supreme Court, design professionals in California are wise to assume that regardless of their attempts to circumscribe their scope of duty by contract, they will be held to owe a duty of care to subsequent purchasers of the properties they design, particularly if those properties are residential. This, in turn, places additional importance on design professionals’ other contractual protections, such as the rights of indemnification and defense.
A Beacon of Hope for Purchasers of Real Property, at the Expense of Design Professional Alert