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Contractor Liability for Damage to Personal Property Within Structure Being Repaired

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The Court of Special Appeals on June 30, 2015 issued an opinion in Cash & Carry America, Inc. v. Roof Solutions, Inc. that addresses the issue of whether a contractor doing work on a residence is responsible for damage to personal property contained within the house on tort principals if the contractor was negligent. In Cash & Carry supra the owner of a business hired a roofing contractor to put a new roof on his residence. The roofing contractor was negligent in allowing a torch which was used to heat the tar paper to ignite the structural members of the roof and a fire ensued. As a result of the fire personal property belonging to the property the owner and to his company were damaged. The trial court held that the contractor was not responsible for the damages because it concluded that the contractor did not know that the assets of the business were located within the townhouse. The Court of Special Appeals reversed and held that there is a duty owned in tort by a contractor who negligently performs repair or replacement work on a structure to have a duty independent of the contract to perform the work in accordance with the standard of care so as to protect the personal property within the structure from harm. The lesson to be learned from that this case is that it is imperative that a contractor or sub-contractor carry appropriate insurance to protect itself from such a loss.

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