Lack of Privity Does Not Bar Action Against Design Professional for Personal Injury

Conforti & Eisele, Inc. v. John C. Morris Assocs., 418 A.2d 1290, 175 N.J. Super. 341 (N.J Super. Ct. Law Div. 1980)

In this case, a general contractor sued the State and its design professionals for economic damage due to the faulty plans prepared by the design professionals and provided by the State.  There was no privity between the general contractor and the design professional defendants.  However, the court found that a design professional can be held responsible for the losses suffered by a contractor regardless of privity.  The decision was based on a line of New Jersey cases that look with disfavor on the privity doctrine especially with regard to design negligence and physical injuries sustained by third-parties.  The court created a test to determine whether liability should be imposed on design professionals when third-parties are injured.  The elements are:  (1) the extent to which the transaction was intended to affect the plaintiff; (2) the foreseeability of harm to him or her; (3) the degree of certainty that the plaintiff suffered injury; (4) the closeness of the connection between the defendant’s conduct and the injuries suffered; (5) the moral blame attached to the defendant’s conduct; and (6) the policy of preventing future harm.

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