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NV Budget Deal Struck: Homeowners Lose Some Rights in Compromise

June 2, 2011

CARSON CITY, Nev. - It was an unusual budget hurdle for state lawmakers focused on heading off steep cuts to education, but it ended up in the final compromise legislation: a change in Nevada's construction defect law. As part of the $6.2 billion budget deal, lawmakers have opted to cut the amount of time that homeowners have if they want to sue builders for construction defects.

Las Vegas attorney Scott Canepa calls it "troubling" that one of the fastest-growing states in the nation now ranks second for giving homeowners the least possible time to file claims for shoddy construction.

"We have great concerns, because many of the construction defects that show up in our state often don't manifest themselves until many, many years - sometimes six, eight or 10 years - after construction."

Backers of the measure were pushing to drop the current 10-year filing window to only three years, but the compromise instead gives homeowners six years within which to file lawsuits. Canepa, who specializes in construction-related law, says only Louisiana gives less time to file: five years.

Assemblymen who pushed for the change contend the current law helps trial lawyers earn big fees in class-action lawsuits, and they accuse the law of driving small construction firms out of business. But Canepa says this issue does not belong in a budget debate, and he points out that some lawmakers who backed the change are defendants in construction-defect lawsuits.

"It does not add any revenue to our budget, so that we can fund our schools or basic social services. It's just four subcontractors - three in particular - who happen to be Assemblymen, who are now trying to use their public office for their own self-interest."

The changes are included in Assembly Bill 401.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV