At 10:30 the Court will hear the construction negligence case of Stribling Investments, LLC v. Mike Rozier Construction Company.
This concerns the building of a Dollar General store in Gluckstadt. Rozier specializes in building Dollar General stores. Rozier creates a development entity to buy a piece of property. The Mike Rozier development entity (in this case D.G. Gluckstadt) enters into a verbal construction contract with Mike Rozier Construction to build the store which he then leases to Dollar General. Once the store is completed, the Mike Rozier development entity sells the store to a third party. Stribling purchased the Gluckstadt store after it had been built in 2006. Over he years, the lot began to fail. In 2012, Stribling hired Ladner Testing (which had previosuly advised Rozier on the site’s soil and how to build a parking lot on said soil) to determine what was causing the parking lot to fail. Ladner identified numerous deficiencies with the construction of the parking lot, particularly the failure to follow Ladner’s December 2005 directions as to the construction of the parking lot. That same year, Stribling sued Rozier. Rozier moved for summary judgment which was granted and Stribling appeals. Rozier argued that his construction company built the parking lot according to the specifications provided by D.G. Gluckstadt.
Because Rozier Construction built the exact parking lot DG Gluckstadt wanted and expected, DG Gluckstadt could not later complain about the manner of construction by Rozier Construction. DG Gluckstadt subsequently sold the subject property “as is” to the plaintiff, Stribling. When DG Gluckstadt sold the subject property to Stribling, it assigned to Stribling all of its rights relating to the property. An assignee can have no more rights that the assignor. The assignment could not include a non-existent defective parking lot claim. Did the trial court err in finding that Stribling failed to present any summary judgment proof that Rozier Construction failed to create the subject parking lot according to the specifications required by an informed DG Gluckstadt, thereby negating any claims of the subsequent purchaser, Stribling.
Mike Rozier Construction asserted, and the trial court mistakenly agreed, that Mike Rozier Construction’s only duty was to warn itself (Mike Rozier’s D.G. Gluckstadt) that it was performing negligently. If it did that, the Court held that it had no further duty or liability to third parties who might suffer damages because of that negligence. Simply put, that is not the law in Mississippi. To the contrary, numerous decisions of this Court have held that a contractor who is negligent in the construction of a facility owes a duty to anyone foreseeably injured thereby.
The case was originally submitted without oral argument but the justices changed their minds and set argument upon further reflection.
Stribling Investments’ brief
Watch it here.