Can a client sue a designer for the failures of a contractor that the client hired?

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Can a client sue a designer for the failures of a contractor that the client hired?

My wife is an interior designer. She recently designed a home and suggested a construction

company for the renovation that the client, not my wife, ended up hiring. That builder has

been massively behind schedule and has not paid subcontractors on time so the work is

taking much longer to be completed. The client is saying that she is holding my wife

responsible for all the problems going on with the job. My wife has even paid out of pocket to

cover things the builder hadn’t purchased or was behind on payment just to help the project

move ahead. Can my wife be held responsible?

Asked on October 5, 2016 under Business Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

No, she is not liable unless she was actually supervising or managing the contractor's work, or guaranteed their performance, or has some financial tie to them, or if the problem(s) were in some way due to her design (which does not seem to have been the case). In the absence of a conntection or or rule in managing (e.g. "GC'ing") the contractor, she is not liable for another entity's or person's negligence or intentional breach of their obligations simply becasuse she suggested them. To be liable, she must have able to exert control over what happened or otherwise to have been at fault; a "suggestion" does not estabish enough fault for what occured.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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