This statewide initiative proposes amending the Colorado Constitution to allow property owners to recover damages from construction companies that do shoddy work. The amendment also seeks to prohibit laws that limit a property owners right to recover damages.Opponents say existing state law that encourages good faith negotiations between homeowners and homebuilders is adequate, and that it limits lawsuits. The opponents also say the amendment was written by tort lawyers to encourage lawsuits and that it will result in higher insurance premiums.Proponents say the proposal will no longer limit the amount of damages they can seek for faulty construction. They say the current system favors the construction industry over individual property owners.
SUMMIT COUNTY The Summit County Builders Association contributed $1,000 this summer to persuade Colorado voters to vote “no” on Amendment 34, which would remove caps on damages for shoddy construction claims.The local group’s contribution is a small figure compared to the $855,000 raised state wide by a group of builders and pro-business interests called Coloradans for Responsible Reform.Voters will decide whether to pass or defeat Amendment 34 in the Nov. 2 general election. The group that collected signatures to place the amendment on the ballot, called Property Owner’s Rights, plans to support the measure through word of mouth and won’t spend much on advertising.Two law firms, Vanatta Sullan Sandgrund & Sullan and McKenzie Rhody & Hearn, provided funds to Kennedy Enterprises of Colorado Springs, which gathered the necessary signatures. The amendment would remove caps on damages for shoddy construction claims and eliminate a required resolution period between property owners and developers before a homeowner could sue.It would also increase the amount a homeowner could collect in recovering damages for allegedly shoddy construction.Gary Lindstrom, state House of Representatives member for District 56, supports Amendment 34.Lindstrom is a former Summit County commissioner.”I remember decks falling off of houses and garage floors heaving up several feet in houses built too fast in winter conditions,” Lindstrom said. “The homeowners were hard pressed to get any action out of the contractors. If you produce a good product then this bill will not have any effect on your business.”Evan Dreyer, a media consultant for Coloradans for Responsible Reform, disagrees.”It will lead to higher insurance premiums for home builders and homeowners; those premiums will be passed directly on to the consumer,” Dreyer said.Dreyer, noting that construction is the No. 2 sector of Colorado’s economy, said the new law would have a “chilling” effect on the state’s economic recovery by negatively effecting the home building industry.He said the proposed amendment would also open the door to “out-of-control” litigation.”It opens up the field of potential people that can be sued to not just the construction industry but anyone involved, including homeowners,” he said.The group will use various media outlets to fight the amendment, including mailers and television and print ads, Dreyer said. Kim Marquis
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