Legislative Democrats caucus with both sides over construction defects

Legislative Democrats met quietly Thursday evening with both sides in the construction defects battle.

In closed door sessions in their respective caucus rooms, trial lawyers pitched their case first with Senate D's while industry representatives met in the Assembly caucus room with that body's Democrats.

Then the two sides switched ends of the building to make their presentations.

Representatives of both groups said the idea was step one in finding common ground

Assembly Majority Leader William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said the meetings were purely informational, that there were no bills discussed.

"It was an opportunity to have both sides come in and talk about this issue," he said. "I told them I'm not going to champion their issue."

He and Senate Democratic staff director Mike Luce said with the large number of freshmen at both ends of the building and many veteran lawmakers who haven't had to deal with the complex issues surrounding construction defects, the educational sessions were necessary.

But both industry and trial lawyers representatives said they hope this is the beginning that can move both sides toward sensible changes to existing law.

Horne made a similar statement: "My discussion was, guys, there are places we can move on both sides."

The meetings lasted a total of about 90 minutes, breaking up shortly before 6:30 p.m.

Industry representatives have long called for changes they say will reduce litigation - including elimination of mandatory attorney's fees and a creating a system that allows contractors an opportunity to fix problems with a house before it gets to court.

Trial lawyers say they fear industry changes would let builders out of their responsibility to homeowners with serious defects. They also have expressed concern about changes that could make class action suits more difficult when a certain construction problem is widespread in a subdivision.


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