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 Ralph Gareth Gray wrote:  

Further, the law is ponderous and totally unpredictable.  I haven't asked 
 recently because it's too depressing, but the California Supreme Court has 
 (or was about to or whatever) ruled that it's OK for the contractor to leave 
 out tie-downs in earthquake country because until the earthquake, no harm 
 been done. 

You are very close....The "Cal Supreme" has just recently heard oral argument 
in the much awaited case of   Aas  (1998)...As you know the appellate court 
in Aas had ruled in 1998 that serious violations of building codes are not 
actionable as they have not yet caused other damages or injury, citing the 
infamous economic loss rule, a bizarre ruling in my view.
However, reading the inquiries the various justices had with attorneys from 
both sides of this litigation lead me to believe that they will overturn the 
appellate ruling.  The gist of inquiries centered on whether the homeowners 
should "role the dice" and hope that their families will survive the next big 
one!!!!  Surprisingly, insurance defense attorneys responded that the 
homeowners should shop around for a good insurance???? ( a more bizarre 
response than the appellate ruling itself!!!!)

George Hakim
Attorney and CSES secretary