A bill making its way through the Utah legislature has recently come to my attention and I would like to enlist the aid of the readers of this blog in attempting to defeat it. Before discussing it, I’d like to discuss a hypothetical bill.

Imagine that the legislature of Utah passed a law that outlawed all malpractice lawsuits. This law would protect doctors from lawsuits in all cases. A doctor could be completely negligent (perhaps even drunk) and maim or kill one of your loved ones and you would have no recourse.

What would happen?

You can bet that all the quack doctors would move to Utah and that even good doctors would get sloppier.

Would such a law be good for the citizens of the state? Well, perhaps it would be good for a small set of unskilled physicians, but it would be terribly bad for the general population and even horrible for good doctors.

SB220 (the current text is here for those intersted in the details) is such a law, but instead of protecting negligent doctors it protects developers and builders.

Imagine that you move into a new development and that after a year you find out that your roof leaks. Not only does your roof leak, but all the roofs in the development leak because the builder didn’t install standard waterproofing material. Worse still, evidence is uncovered that this was pointed out to the builder and he did nothing. Now all the houses in the neighborhood need new roofs and worse yet, might have to contend with mold.

Any reasonable group of people would want to sue the builder for his negligence, if only to pay to fix the roofs. But very soon Utah will be the only place in the nation where the builder is immune from such a lawsuit.

Note that your homeowner’s insurance will not cover construction defects. So you as the consumer get to pay.

There will be basically no way to hold bad builders accountable. This will harm Utah homeowners and will harm the developers that aren’t out to line their pockets while trying to run away from poorly built dwellings as quickly as they can.

If you’ve ever had an experience with a bad builder you can just imagine what the results of this law will be.

I can not imagine how this law serves the interest of the public, or why builders should somehow not be accountable for negligence when other professions are.

It is well known that powerful members of the Utah legislature are in the pocket of special interests that contribute to their campaigns. In fact many that support the bill have clear conflicts of interest. But many are not conflicted and should be informed of the harm this bill will cause. This bill has already passed the state senate but has not yet passed the house.

If you are a citizen of Utah, I urge you to contact your local representative and tell them to vote against SB220. Contact information for representatives can be found on the Legislature Website.

Emails should include some form of “No on SB220″ in the subject line. Phone calls can be effective as well.

Additional if you are interested (and even if you aren’t from Utah) it would be helpful to contact Representative Urquhart, Representative Allen, and Representative David Clark.

I’m going to take the extraordinary step of asking that you please email a member of the legislature (even if in support of the bill) prior to commenting. Voting on the bill is scheduled for Wednesday so your help is needed urgently.

Thank you for your attention,

John Harrison