Legal Question in Construction Law in California

I need help to sue General Contractor.

We contracted a General Contractor to build our home.

He abandoned the job halfway through, messed up the work, and walked away with a lot of my money. At all stages he only used unlicensed workers and he didn't carry Workmans Comp at all.

I now want to sue him on the basis that he was improperly licensed due to not having Comp which is a condition of being licensed in CA.

And, in CA, since this means an automatic license suspension I then want to demand that he pays back all cash that I gave him.

If there are any lawyers who understand and have experience of this aspect of CA law, (B&P 725, B&P 7031, B&P 7152.2), I'd like to hear from you.

Asked on 3/02/08, 3:10 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Lenore Shefman Shefman Law Group

Re: I need help to sue General Contractor.

First you want to be sure the contractor has assets so that it is worth your time and money. Most unlicensed contractors do not have surety companies since they were not licensed to qualify for a surety/license bond. Therefore, your contractor may not only be penniless s/he may also not have any insurance. I recently dealt with an identical issue on a commercial/residential building in Vallejo, CA. The building code violations were egregious, and on top of the contractor being unlicensed at the time the job began, he later became licensed through fraudulent representations made to the CSLB. The CSLB still took almost a year to terminate the ill gotten license.

My advise for you is be prepared for a long and expensive battle. At minimum this will cost you (conservative estimate) $20K. So, make sure you have weighed the cost benefit before wading into the potentially deep of litigation. If you would like our evaluation please call us - The Shefman Law Group- you can find our number on the web at {San Francisco Office is downtown SF on Mission and Second St.} or,

best of luck!

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Answered on 3/02/08, 7:40 pm

Michael Meyer Law Ofc. Of Michael J. Meyer

Re: I need help to sue General Contractor.

Hello again. I want to address a point of strategy as you proceed, if I may.

A common defense of the bond companies is that "the contractor was unlicensed at the time of the violation." Therefore, it may be prudent for you to make a bond claim first, and when that claim is complete, THEN bring your lawsuit alleging unlicensed work.

This way, you might tap into the bond money, which you know is good, before trying to go after a possibly insolvent contractor (you never know how many competing claimants there will be to his limited assets).

BTW, if you make a bond claim, take particular care to do it well. My last claim was on the surety's form, included a substantial supplement that I drafted, included numerous exhibits, and came to almost 100 pages. That claim succeeded in obtaining a payout after my client's attempted claim on the same bond was denied.

Good luck.

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Answered on 3/02/08, 3:27 pm

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