A buyer of a new home built in 2004 filed a claim against the contractor in 2006. They settled for $25,000.00. In exchange for the money, the buyer signed a general release of all claims, known and unknown, related to the construction of the home.
In 2011, the buyer found problems with the roof and filed another action. The trial court granted summary judgment to the contractor because the 2006 release applied to any issues related to the construction, known or unknown.
In a construction defect case, it is important to take some care in drafting the release, especially if the construction is less than 10 years old, as latent defects may appear. In Belasco, however, the court examined the release, found it to apply to the entire house, and affirmed summary judgment. It could be, however, that no judge was going to be sympathetic to Mr. Belasco, since he was himself an attorney.