Local firm Melchiori Construction was ordered on September 21 to pay $1 million to two Santa Barbara homeowners for landslide damages to their five-acre property from a heavy rainstorm in 2005. Melchiori has decided to appeal to the California Supreme Court, according to the firm’s attorney, Kristine Mollenkopf.
After receiving the opinion from the appellate court last month, Melchiori and Mollenkopf felt it needed further review, Mollenkopf said. But according to the homeowners’ attorney, Joseph Liebman, the chances of the case being heard by the court is less than one percent.
“We believe it’s a meritorious request,” said Mollenkopf, “and that’s why we’re making it.”
The homeowners, Trung Mai and My-Phuong Nguyen, filed a complaint in 2006 against their general contractor, Melchiori, as well as the grading subcontractor, the soils engineer, and the previous homeowners, for negligence. While the house was not damaged, the landslide caused the ground to collapse in on itself.
The trial ended in 2008, with all defendants settling except for Melchiori. The firm appealed on the grounds of statute of limitations, saying the homeowners did not sue within the legal time frame allowed after the damage.
Last month, the appellate court upheld the ruling that Melchiori was liable for the damage, and ordered the firm to pay $1,002,000 to the homeowners.