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Pacific Caisson & Shoring, Inc. v. Bernards Bros. Inc.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Third Division

May 18, 2015

PACIFIC CAISSON & SHORING, INC., Plaintiff, Cross-defendant and Appellant,
v.
BERNARDS BROS. INC., Defendant, Cross-complainant and Respondent.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. BC343834, Steven J. Kleifield, Judge.

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COUNSEL

Law Offices of Arthur Jarvis Cohen and Arthur Jarvis Cohen for Plaintiff, Cross-defendant and Appellant.

Law Offices of Ted R. Gropman and Ted R. Gropman for Defendant, Cross-complainant and Respondent.

OPINION

ALDRICH, J.

INTRODUCTION

The Contractors’ State License Board (the Board) suspended the license of Pacific Caisson & Shoring, Inc. (Pacific) as the sanction for the failure to notify the Board that a judgment had been entered against Pacific. (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 7071.17.)[1] Thereafter, the trial court found that Pacific did not substantially comply with the requirement that the contractor be licensed while performing work. (§ 7031, subd. (e).) Pacific appeals contending that the judgment was not “substantially related” to its “construction activities” within the meaning of section 7071.17, and so Pacific’s license should not have been suspended. We hold that the judgment falls within the ambit of section 7071.17, and affirm the judgment against Pacific.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

1. The previous trial involving these parties

Much of the factual predicate is set forth in our earlier published opinion, Pacific Caisson & Shoring, Inc. v. Bernards Bros. Inc. (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 681 [130 Cal.Rptr.3d 430] (Pacific Caisson). Pacific entered into a subcontract (the subcontract) with Bernards Bros. Inc. (Bernards) to provide temporary excavation and support work on a project to build a medical center for the County of Ventura. (Id. at p. 685.)

Pacific filed this lawsuit against Bernards for compensation for work performed. Bernards raised as an affirmative defense that Pacific was not “at all times” properly licensed, and cross-complained seeking reimbursement for money owed. (Pacific Caisson, supra, 198 Cal.App.4th at pp. 686-687.) The prime contract required the subcontractor to maintain a class C-12 specialty

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earthwork and paving contractor’s license. Pacific held class A and class B contractor’s licenses but never obtained a class C-12 specialty license. (Id. at p. 686.)

We reversed the judgment in favor of Bernards. We held that Pacific was “duly licensed” (§ 7031, subd. (a)) in the sense that its class A license sufficed. (Pacific Caisson, supra, 198 Cal.App.4th at p. 685.) However, because that class A license was suspended for a two-month period, Pacific was not licensed “at all times” during performance of the subcontract and so we remanded the case for trial on whether Pacific nonetheless substantially complied with the licensing requirement pursuant to section 7031, ...


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