Spearin doctrine in Indiana

The Spearin Doctrine (so called because of the United States Supreme Court decision that established it)  holds that when a builder strictly complies with the requirements of the plans and specifications, the builder will not be liable for the consequences of defects in the plans and specifications.   In 1the 1992 case of Millner v Murphy, the Indiana Court of Appeals seemingly adopted Spearin when it noted that “a contractor who builds a structure according to plans and specifications supplied by the building owner is not to be held liable if the plans and specifications prove defective.”

The unpublished decision Swami Inc. v. Franklin Drywall II, LLC, again embraces Spearin as it cites and applies Millner..  Defending against Franklin Drywall’s lien foreclosure action, the building owner, which acted as its own general contractor, tried to reduce the lien amount by claiming a back charge for defective work.  In denying the back charge, the Indiana Court of Appeals noted:  “The specifications used by Swami were incorrect.   The oversight done by Swami on the project as the General Contractor was equally incorrect.  This combined to achieve Swami’s current problems with the drywall.”

By:  Mike Cavosie (mcavosie@easterandcavosie.com) and Roy Rodabaugh (rrodabaugh@easterandcavosie.com)