Trial court to determine whether Vidor church's suit over leaky roof to be dismissed with or without prejudice

By Elizabeth Alt | May 22, 2018

BEAUMONT – An appellate court has reversed an order that denied a motion to dismiss filed by the architects and engineers a Vidor church claims failed to keep a roof from leaking after a three-year multimillion dollar project.

Justice Charles Kreger wrote the court opinion on May 17 with Justices Steve McKeithen and Leanne Johnson on the court panel.

“The trial court abused its discretion in denying appellants’ motion to dismiss,” the court stated.

According to the opinion, The First Baptist Church in Vidor hired G.L. Barron Co. Inc. to oversee a “multimillion dollar construction and renovation project” in November 2011. One of First Baptist’s major concerns was that the buildings' roofs not leak. 

G.L. Barron hired a team of architects and engineers for the project, including Barron, Stark & Swift Consulting Engineers LP and Barron-Bennett Architecture LP. In 2013, First Baptist alleged it experienced leaking in various parts of the church and claims that the water intrusion eventually led to mold problems. First Baptist claims that G.L. did not repair the problems to their satisfaction, and the project was completed in 2014.

First Baptist filed a complaint in 2016 against appellants Barron, Stark & Swift Consulting Engineers LP and Barron-Bennett Architecture LP and others alleging breach of contract, violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, breach of express warranties, breach of implied warranties, negligence and fraud.

The appellants motioned to dismiss the suit and the trial court denied the motion. The appellants appealed, stating that the trial court erred in denying their motion according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, which requires that a certificate of merit be filed with the original complaint or file for an extension. The appellants further claimed that the certificates of merit from an architect and engineer were added a month after the original complaint without any allegations that they were unable to get the certificate of merit due to time restraints.

The appellate court agreed that the trial court erred, stating that First Baptist “failed to meet the prerequisites for obtaining an extension under subsection (c) by filing within 10 days of the statute of limitations expiring and alleging that the resulting time constraints prevented it from obtaining a certificate of merit, it was not exempted from contemporaneously filing the certificate of merit as mandated.”

Kreger noted that although the “appellants are entitled to dismissal of FBCV’s complaint, but it is within the trial court’s discretion as to whether the dismissal will be with or without prejudice.”

The court remanded the case back to trial court to determine whether the dismissal would be with or without prejudice.

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