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Maricopa County v. Walsh & Oberg Architects, Inc.

Arizona Court of Appeals
494 P.2d 44 (1972)


Facts

Maricopa County (Maricopa) (plaintiff) hired Walsh & Oberg Architects, Inc. (W&O) (defendant) to design a new building. W&O’s design featured a concrete slab laid over an underground parking garage, with landscaping on top and electrical wiring inside to light the garage. After the building had been constructed, however, the slab developed cracks that allowed water to leak into the garage. Maricopa sued W&O. The trial court found that the slab leaked because of flaws in W&O’s design. The court also found that the only way to waterproof the slab would involve removing and later replacing all the landscaping at a cost between $350,000 and $500,000. The majority of this cost would be from removing and replacing the landscaping, not from waterproofing the slab itself. But there was an alternative to waterproofing the slab: gutters could be installed in the garage to catch any water that leaked in, and the damaged electrical wiring could be fixed. The trial court found that the cost of this alternative remedy would be only about $100,000, including an estimate of Maricopa’s costs to repay garage patrons for any damage the leaks caused over the building’s lifetime. The trial court awarded this alternative amount. Evidence suggested that Maricopa would not have waterproofed the slab even if awarded the greater amount. Nevertheless, Maricopa appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jacobson, J.)

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