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Florida Construction Law News

19SEP 2017

Understanding Alabama’s Statutes of Limitations and Repose for Construction Projects

by Clay H. Whittaker, Esq.

Alabama’s statutes of limitations and repose are alive and well! Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. (“CSK”) recently prevailed on a Motion for Summary Judgment—and in defending the plaintiff’s subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court of Alabama—arguing that the plaintiff’s (an Association) lawsuit against a construction subcontractor was barred as untimely under both of Alabama’s statute of limitations and statute of repose.

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25AUG 2017

Retroactive Application of a Construction Subcontract Containing a Merger Clause? Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal Answers in the Affirmative

by Sanjo S. Shatley, Esq.

Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal recently addressed the issue of retroactive application of a construction subcontract on the basis of a merger clause in Don Facciobene, Inc. v. Hough Roofing, Inc.[1] In the case, in late 2010, Don Facciobene, Inc. (“DFI”), a licensed general contractor, contracted with Digiacinto Holdings, LLC, an owner of a Read More…

04AUG 2017

Survival of the Independent Tort Doctrine after the Florida Supreme Court’s Limitation of the Economic Loss Rule

by Haldon L. Greenberg, Esq.

The independent tort doctrine is a prohibition against tort actions that are calculated to recover solely economic damages for one in contractual privity with another. In other words, the doctrine is intended to prevent parties to a contract from circumventing the allocation of losses set forth in a contract by bringing an action for economic loss in tort.

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10JUL 2017

Latest Blower Door Regulations Now Effective

by Craig S. Distel, Esq.

As part of Florida’s increasing efforts to achieve energy efficiency in new construction, changes have been made to the methodology of measuring dwelling air leakage and tolerable measurements. In June 2015, the Florida Legislature amended Section 553.998, Florida Statutes, to require additional testing for newly constructed buildings to verify air leakage figures. Residential construction must now undergo a Mandatory Residential Air Infiltration (“Blower Door”) Test. Florida companies were granted a two-year “grace period” to allow the construction industry to prepare and plan for the changes, which became effective on July 1, 2017.

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22JUN 2017

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal Suggests Negligent Repairs to Real Property Are Not Subject to the Statute of Repose

by Nicole Rodolico, Esq.

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal (“Third District”) recently addressed the applicable statute of limitations for repairs under Section 95.11, Florida Statutes, including the issue of whether a repair constitutes an improvement to real property. In Companion Property & Casualty Group v. Built Tops Building Services, Inc., No. 3D16-2044, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 6584 (Fla. Read More…

15MAY 2017

Insurance Company Not Responsible For Paying Pre-Tender Legal Fees

by Robert H. de Flesco III, Esq.

Insurance carriers can breathe a little easier. The Eleventh Circuit recently ruled, in EmbroidMe.com, Inc. v. Travelers Property & Casualty Co. of America, that an insurer did not have to pay attorneys’ fees incurred by its insured before the insured notified it of the litigation.

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24APR 2017

The Time Machine Known as the Relation-Back Doctrine

by Sean L. Mullhall, Esq.

While considered procedural, the “relation back doctrine” has a substantive effect that can either be a life-saver or a frustration (depending on what side of the issue you are on). The doctrine allows an amendment to a pleading, well after the original filing and service of that pleading, to relate back to the date of the original pleading. So, for example, for a case filed in 2014, an amendment to a pleading filed in 2017 will be treated as if the amendment was part of the original pleading filed in 2014. The doctrine is well-established in both Florida and federal law.

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07APR 2017

Professional Negligence in Construction: Which Statute of Limitations Applies?

by Stephen W. Stukey, Esq.

It is a fairly common fact pattern in construction defect claims: A design professional, such as an architect or engineer, is contracted by a client to provide a design, and perhaps perform construction administration for, an improvement to real property. Construction is completed, and everything seems fine for four or more years until the client asserts defects and deficiencies that implicate the services of the design professional. Upon further investigation, it appears the client knew of the alleged defects and deficiencies for at least two years before filing suit for professional negligence. The question invariably arises, “are the claims barred by the statute of limitations?”

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23MAR 2017

Useful Life: A Valuable Theory for Reducing Damages

by Brooke E. Beebe, Esq.

The situation is one all too familiar to construction defect litigants. A homeowner contracts with a roofing contractor to install a new roof with a life expectancy of ten years.[1] After only five years, the homeowner brings a claim for construction defects in the roof alleging that the roof requires complete replacement due to water intrusion. The homeowner seeks damages for the full replacement cost of the roof. However, under a “useful life” theory, the homeowner would not be entitled to damages for the full amount of the replacement cost. Instead, the homeowner would be entitled to one-half of the cost of the replacement roof, taking into account the fact that he or she had been deprived of only five, rather than ten, years of use.

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23FEB 2017

The Burden of Betterment

by Ryan M. Charlson, Esq.

The concept of betterment has long been used by defendants in cases involving defective design or construction to limit the damages awarded to a plaintiff.[1] The theory behind betterment is that: “if in [the] course of making repairs [an] owner adopts a more expensive design, recovery should be limited to what would have been the reasonable cost of repair according to original design.”[2] Betterment is often raised as an affirmative defense, requiring a defendant to prove that the plaintiff has received a good or service that is superior to that for which the plaintiff originally contracted. A recent South Florida case seems, at first blush, to suggest the burden of establishing the value of betterments may fall to the plaintiff, although a closer reading indicates the decision is likely to have limited applicability.

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