Contract Specifications Defense Applies to Both Private and Public Contractors

Craig Johnson Constr., L.L.C. v. Floyd Town Architects, P.A., 142 Idaho 797, 134 P.3d 648 (2006)

Town entered into a contract with Dean to prepare plans for condominiums in Ketchum.  Once Dean received the plans, Dean contracted with Johnson to build the condominiums according to Town’s plans.  The condominiums were built in two phases.  In Phase one Johnson deviated from the plans, but did not do so in building phase two.  The first winter the condominiums were completed, ice dams formed on the roofs of individual units in both phases of construction.  All three parties then brought actions against each other for breach of contract, negligence and indemnification. 

At trial, the jury found Johnson to be 90 percent at fault and Town only 10 percent at fault.  The court held that “a public or private contractor following plans and specifications prepared by another party is not liable in negligence where defects in the plans and specifications cause injuries, so long as the contractor should not have reasonably known about the defects.”  The court affirmed the jury’s verdict since there was sufficient evidence in the record to show that Johnson was negligent and failed to follow Town’s plans. 

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