Economic Loss Rule Bars Claims Against Manufacturer

Businessman throws money in air

In a products liability action, there needs to be personal injury or property damage, other than to the property itself, in order to recover economic damages.

November 2, 2020
David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

The economic loss rule lives to bar a claim against a product manufacturer in a real estate transaction. In a products liability action, there needs to be personal injury or property damage, other than to the property itself, in order to recover economic damages. Otherwise, the economic loss rule will bar the recovery of such economic losses when the economic losses deal to the product itself. This is important to keep in mind in any product liability action against a manufacturer.

In a recent case, 2711 Hollywood Beach Condominium Assoc’n, Inc., v. TRG Holiday, Ltd., 45 Fla. L. Weekly D2179a (Fla. 3d DCA 2020), a condominium association purchased the condominium from the developer. Subsequently, it noticed leaks with the fire suppression system in the condominium and sued multiple parties for damages for repairs due to the leaks and the replacement of the fire suppression system. One of the parties sued in negligence and strict liability was a manufacturer of pipe fittings used in the fire suppression system. The manufacturer moved for summary judgment based on the economic loss rule and relying on the 1993 Florida Supreme Court opinion in Casa Clara Condominium Assoc’n v. Charley Toppino & Sons, Inc., 620 So.2d 1244 (Fla. 1993), holding “the economic loss rule limited a defendant’s tort liability for allegedly defective products to injuries caused to persons or damage caused to property other than the defective product itself.” 2711 Hollywood Beach Conominium Assoc’n, supra. The trial court agreed with the manufacturer and granted summary judgment. On appeal, the Third District affirmed based on the economic loss rule:

The Association bargained for, purchased and received a building; [the manufactuer’s] fittings were only a component of the FSS [fire suppression system], incorporated into the building. Applying the rule set forth in Casa Clara, the Association purchased a completed building from the developer. [The manufactuer’s] fittings were “an integral part of the finished product and, thus, did not injure ‘other’ property.” Injury to the building itself is not injury to “other” property because the product purchased by the Association was the building. See Casa Clara, 620 So. 2d at 1247. The economic loss rule therefore bars the Association’s recovery as to [the manufacturer] to the extent that it sought damages to replace the FSS [fire suppression system] and repair damage to the building.

2711 Hollywood Beach Conominium Assoc’n, supra (internal citations omitted).

Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com



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