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Conforti & Eisele Inc. v. John C. Morris Associates

Decided: June 17, 1980.

CONFORTI & EISELE, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN C. MORRIS ASSOCIATES, DEFENDANT



Marzulli, J.s.c.

Marzulli

Defendant moves to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a cause of action.

For purposes of the motion, the court is asked to assume the following as facts:

1. Defendant was the design professional who prepared the mechanical plans.

2. Defendant knew the plans he prepared were to be submitted to contractors, such as plaintiff, for the purpose of bidding the job.

3. Defendant owed a duty to bidders to supply them with drawings prepared in accordance with the standard of the profession.

4. Plaintiff properly relied upon these plans in preparing its bid.

5. Defendant was negligent in the preparation of those plans.

6. Plaintiff was damaged.

7. Defendant's negligence was the proximate cause of the damages.

On the basis of these assumptions the court is posed with this issue: Is a design professional answerable in tort to a contractor who sustains economic damages as a result of the negligence of the design professional in the absence of privity of contract? This question is one of first impression for New Jersey courts.

New Jersey courts have looked with disfavor upon the privity doctrine when, as a result of a design professionals' negligence, bodily injury has been sustained by a third party. In Totten v. Gruzen , 52 N.J. 202 (1968), the court established that architects and engineers may be held liable for personal ...


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