CACI 4510 Breach of Implied Covenant to Perform Work in a Good and Competent Manner—Essential Factual Elements

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

4510 Breach of Implied Covenant to Perform Work in a Good and Competent Manner—Essential Factual Elements

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] failed to [perform the work for the [project/describe construction project, e.g., kitchen remodeling] competently/ [or] use the proper materials for the [project/ e.g., kitchen remodeling]]. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1.That [name of defendant] failed to [perform [his/her/nonbinary pronoun/its] work competently/ [or] provide the proper materials] by [describe alleged breach, e.g., failing to apply sufficient coats of paint or failing to complete the project in substantial conformity with the plans and specifications]; and

2.That [name of plaintiff] was harmed by [name of defendant]’s failure.

Directions for Use

This instruction is for use if an owner claims that the contractor breached the contract by failing to perform the work on the project competently so that the result did not meet what was expected under the contract. This is sometimes referred to as the implied covenant that the work performed will be fit and proper for its intended use. (See Kuitems v. Covell (1951) 104 Cal.App.2d 482, 485 [231 P.2d 552].) The implied covenant encompasses the quality of both the work and materials. (See Aced v. Hobbs-Sesack Plumbing Co. (1961) 55 Cal.2d 573, 582–583 [12 Cal.Rptr. 257, 360 P.2d 897].)

Also give CACI No. 303, Breach of Contract—Essential Factual Elements.

The word “project” may be used if the meaning will be clear to the jury. Alternatively, describe the project in the first paragraph, and then select a shorter term for use thereafter.

This instruction is based on CACI No. 325, Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing—Essential Factual Elements. It should be given in conjunction with CACI No. 4530, Owner’s Damages for Breach of Construction Contract—Work Does Not Conform to Contract, which provides the proper measure of damages recoverable for a breach of the implied covenant to perform work fit for its intended use.

This instruction may be adapted for use with a claim by a homeowner who purchased the property from the developer-owner against the contractor for construction defects. The claim would be based on the homeowner’s status as a third-party beneficiary of the builder-developer contract. (See Burch v. Superior Court (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 1411, 1422–1423 [168 Cal.Rptr.3d 81], disapproved on other grounds in McMillin Albany LLC v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 241, 258 [227 Cal.Rptr.3d 191, 408 P.3d 797]; see also Gilbert Financial Corp. v. Steelform Contracting Co. (1978) 82 Cal.App.3d 65, 69–70, 145 Cal.Rptr. 448 [homeowner can be beneficiary of contractor-subcontractor contract].)

Sources and Authority

“[A]lthough [general contractor] … had a contractual relationship with the City, it also had a duty of care to perform in a competent manner.” (Willdan v. Sialic Contractors Corp. (2007) 158 Cal.App.4th 47, 57 [69 Cal.Rptr.3d 633].)

“The defect complained of and the alleged breach of the warranty relate solely to fabrication and workmanship—the seams opened and the edges raveled. The failure of the carpet to last for the period warranted was occasioned by the defective sewing of the seams and binding of the edges, constituting a breach of the warranty as it related to good workmanship in assembling and installing it, but not as to the quality of the carpet itself.” (Southern California Enterprises, Inc. v. D. N. & E. Walter & Co. (1947) 78 Cal.App.2d 750, 753–754 [178 P.2d 785], superseded by statute as stated in Cardinal Health 301, Inc. v. Tyco Electronics Corp. (2008) 169 Cal.App.4th 116, 132 [87 Cal. Rptr. 3d 5].)

“[Subcontractor] agreed to perform the waterproofing and drainage work on the retaining walls built by [contractor] and had the duty to perform those tasks in a good and workmanlike manner.” (Stonegate Homeowners Assn. v. Staben (2006) 144 Cal.App.4th 740, 749 [50 Cal.Rptr.3d 709].)

“ ‘Accompanying every contract is a common-law duty to perform with care, skill, reasonable expedience, and faithfulness the thing agreed to be done, and a negligent failure to observe any of these conditions is a tort as well as a breach of the contract.’ The rule which imposes this duty is of universal application as to all persons who by contract undertake professional or other business engagements requiring the exercise of care, skill and knowledge; the obligation is implied by law and need not be stated in the agreement.” (Kuitemssupra, 104 Cal.App.2d at p. 485.)

“Obviously, the statement in the written contract that it contains the entire agreement of the parties cannot furnish the appellants an avenue of escape from the entirely reasonable obligation implied in all contracts to the effect that the work performed ‘shall be fit and proper for its said intended use’ … .” (Kuitemssupra, 104 Cal.App.2d at p. 485.)

“[N]o warranty other than that of good workmanship can be implied where the contractor faithfully complies with plans and specifications supplied by the owner … .” (Sunbeam Constr. Co. v. Fisci (1969) 2 Cal.App.3d 181, 186 [82 Cal.Rptr. 446], internal citations omitted.)

“[T]here is implied in a sales contract for newly constructed real property a warranty of quality and fitness. … ‘[T]he builder or seller of new construction—not unlike the manufacturer or merchandiser of personalty—makes implied representations, ordinarily indispensable to the sale, that the builder has used reasonable skill and judgment in constructing the building.’ … ‘[W]e conclude builders and sellers of new construction should be held to what is impliedly represented—that the completed structure was designed and constructed in a reasonably workmanlike manner.’ ” (Burchsupra, 223 Cal.App.4th at p. 1422, disapproved on other grounds in McMillin Albany LLCsupra, 4 Cal.5th at p. 258, internal citations omitted.)

“[A] contract to build an entire building is essentially a contract for material and labor, and there is an implied warranty protecting the owner from defective construction. Clearly, it would be anomalous to imply a warranty of quality when construction is pursuant to a contract with the owner—but fail to recognize a similar warranty when the sale follows completion of construction.” (Pollard v. Saxe & Yolles Dev. Co. (1974) 12 Cal.3d 374, 378–379 [115 Cal.Rptr. 648, 525 P.2d 88], internal citations omitted.)

Several cases dealing with construction contracts and other contracts for labor and material show that ordinarily such contracts give rise to an implied warranty that the product will be fit for its intended use both as to workmanship and materials. These cases support the proposition that although the provisions of the Uniform Sales Act with respect to implied warranty (Civ. Code, §§ 1734–1736) apply only to sales, similar warranties may be implied in other contracts not governed by such statutory provisions when the contracts are of such a nature that the implication is justified. … [¶] The reference in the stipulation to merchantability, a term generally used in connection with sales, does not preclude reliance on breach of warranty although the contract is one for labor and material. With respect to sales, merchantability requires among other things that the substance sold be reasonably suitable for the ordinary uses it was manufactured to meet. The defect of which [plaintiff] complains is that the tubing was not reasonably suitable for its ordinary use, and his cause of action may properly be considered as one for breach of a warranty of merchantability. There is no justification for refusing to imply a warranty of suitability for ordinary uses merely because an article is furnished in connection with a construction contract rather than one of sale. The evidence, if taken in the light most favorable to [plaintiff], would support a determination that there was an implied warranty of merchantability.” (Acedsupra, 55 Cal.2d at p. 583, internal citations omitted.)

“[P]ublic policy imposes on contractors in various circumstances the duty to finish a project with diligence and to avoid injury to the person or property of third parties.” (Ott v. Alfa-Laval Agri, Inc. (1995) 31 Cal.App.4th 1439, 1450 [37 Cal.Rptr.2d 790].)

Secondary Sources

2 California Construction Contracts, Defects, and Litigation (Cont.Ed.Bar) Ch. 9, Handling Disputes During Construction, § 9.93
2 Stein, Construction Law, Ch. 5B, Contractor’s and Construction Manager’s Rights and Duties, ¶ 5B.01[2][b] (Matthew Bender)
10 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 104, Building Contracts, § 104.42 (Matthew Bender)
29 California Legal Forms, Ch. 89, Home Improvement and Specialty Contracts, § 89.14 (Matthew Bender)
Miller & Starr, California Real Estate 4th, § 29:5 (Thomson Reuters)
Acret, California Construction Law Manual (6th ed.) § 5:39 (Thomson Reuters)
Bruner & O’Connor on Construction Law, §§ 9:67–9:70 (Thomson Reuters)
Gibbs & Hunt, California Construction Law (Aspen Pub. 16th ed. 1999) Ch. 5, Breach of Contract by Contractor, § 5.01