The Texas Supreme Court recently refused to hear a further appeal in the case of Black + Vernooy Architects v. Smith, 346 S.W.3d 877 (Tex. App.—Austin 2011, pet. filed).
The case concerned whether and to what extent architects performing contract or construction administration are responsible to third-party house guests injured by purely construction defects. The plaintiffs filed a motion for rehearing October 12, 2012.
Allensworth & Porter drafted an amicus brief in the Austin Court of Appeals on behalf of the Texas Society of Architects and the Texas Council of Engineering Companies, Inc.
Although a three-judge panel of the Austin Court of Appeals initially held that the architect owed a duty to a house guest injured by a construction defect, the entire Court later reversed itself on rehearing, holding that the architect owed no such duty.
If the Supreme Court hears the case, it will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the extent of the legal duties owed by design professionals to the public.
Update: On August 31, 2012, the Texas Supreme Court denied the petition for review. However, petitioners filed a motion for rehearing on October 2, 2012. On March 22, 2013, the Texas Supreme Court denied the petitioners’ motion for rehearing. The effect is that the Austin Court of Appeals’ decision is final.