In Sapp & Smith v. Ford Motor Company, Opinion 26754 (S.C. December 21, 2009), South Carolina’s Supreme Court once again ruled that the economic loss rule only applies to residential construction.
“The economic loss rule is a creation of the modern law of products liability. Under the rule, there is no tort liability for a product defect if the damage suffered by the plaintiff is only to the product itself. Kennedy v. Columbia Lumber & Mfg. Co., 299 S.C. 335, 341, 384 S.E.2d 730, 734 (1989). In other words, tort liability only lies where there is damage done to other property or personal injury. Id.”
In South Carolina, the “the economic loss rule does not preclude a homebuyer from recovering in tort against the developer or builder where the builder violates an applicable building code, deviates from industry standards, or constructs a house that he knows or should know will pose a serious risk of physical harm.” Kennedy v. Columbia Lumber & Mfg. Co., 299 S.C. 335, 341, 384 S.E.2d 730 (1989). This notion was extended to commercial construction in Colleton Preparatory Academy, Inc. v. Hoover Universal Inc., 379 S.C. 181, 666 S.E.2d 247 (2008).
“we overrule Colleton Prep to the extent it expands the narrow exception to the economic loss rule beyond the residential builder context”