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Christie v. Hartley Constr., Inc.

Supreme Court of North Carolina

December 19, 2014

GEORGE CHRISTIE and DEBORAH CHRISTIE
v.
HARTLEY CONSTRUCTION, INC.; GRAILCOAT WORLDWIDE, LLC; and GRAILCO, INC

Heard, April 14, 2014

Counsel Amended January 7, 2015.

N.C. Court of Appeals. No. 12-1385. Wanda G. Bryant, Judge.

Whitfield Bryson & Mason, LLP, Raleigh, NC, bye Daniel K. BrysonMr. and Scott C. HarrisMr., Primary Attorneys, Attorneys at Law for, Plaintiff-Appellant - Christie, George, et al.

Ragsdale Liggett PLLC, Raleigh, NC, by William W. PollockMr. and Angela M. AllenMs, Primary Attorneys, Attorneys at Law, for Defendant-Appellee - Hartley Construction, Inc.

Conner Gwyn Schenck PLLC, Greensboro, NC, by Andrew L. ChapinMr., Primary Attorney, Attorney at Law, for Defendant-Appellee - GrailCoat Worldwide, LLC et al.

Jonathan G. McGirtMr., Primary Attorney, Attorney at Law, Raleigh, NC; and Law Offices of F. Bryan Brice, Jr., Raleigh, NC, by Mr. Matthew D. Quinn, Primary Attorney, Attorney at Law, for North Carolina Advocates for Justice, Amicus.

OPINION

Page 284

Appeal pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 7A-30(2) from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, __ N.C.App. __, 745 S.E.2d 60 (2013), affirming an order of summary judgment entered on 13 August 2012 by Judge Gary E. Trawick in Superior Court, Orange County. On 18 December 2013, the Supreme Court allowed plaintiffs' petition for discretionary review of additional issues. Heard in the Supreme Court on 14 April 2014.

EDMUNDS, Justice.

Defendants GrailCoat Worldwide, LLC and GrailCo, Inc. (collectively, " GrailCoat" ) provided an express twenty-year warranty for its [367 N.C. 535] product SuperFlex,[1] a stucco-like material that plaintiffs purchased to cover the exterior of their new home. When the product later failed and plaintiffs brought suit for damages, GrailCoat claimed that North Carolina's six-year statute of repose barred plaintiffs' attempt to enforce the warranty. We conclude that by contracting for a warranty term that exceeded the repose period, GrailCoat waived the protections provided by that statute and is bound by its agreement. Accordingly, we hold GrailCoat to its promise to plaintiffs and reverse in part the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the GrailCoat defendants.

George and Deborah Christie (" plaintiffs" ) presented evidence tending to show the following: In 2004, plaintiffs decided to build a custom home in Orange County. Because they lacked experience in both architectural design and residential construction, plaintiffs entered into an agreement with Hartley Construction, Inc., a company that specialized in designing and building such houses. Under the agreement, Hartley would manage all aspects of the project to provide plaintiffs a " turnkey" home ready for occupancy. Hartley constructed the home using structural insulated panels (" SIPs" ) as the exterior walls of the residence. The SIPs would not only constitute the house's load-bearing structural support, but would also provide insulation and sheathing. SIP construction requires an exterior cladding system to protect the home from the elements and moisture intrusion. During the design process, Hartley suggested that plaintiffs consider SuperFlex, an exterior cladding system marketed

Page 285

by GrailCoat as being " extremely well-suited [for] use over Structural Insulated Panels." Plaintiffs conducted research by accessing GrailCoat's website, which promised that " [p]roperly installed over SIPs, GrailCoat is fully warranted for twenty years to not crack, craze, fatigue or delaminate from the substrate. If maintained properly, GrailCoat could last forty or fifty years, even in salt air, freeze/thaw, or heavy rain or sun exposure." Satisfied with GrailCoat's representations and relying on the warranty provisions stated on its website, plaintiffs elected to use SuperFlex. Hartley purchased the SuperFlex and hired a GrailCoat-certified installer ...


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