Call us: 305.350.5300

Florida Construction Law News

15JUN 2018

Owner Liability in the Context of Construction: Seeking to Circumvent Workers’ Compensation in Favor of Tort Liability

by Grayson Miller, Esq.

Despite the best safety practices implanted con construction jobsites, injuries occasionally occur during construction.  If contractors are properly insured with workers’ compensation coverage, all contractors on the job site should be protected from tort liability via horizontal and vertical workers’ compensation immunity.  See Fla. Stat. § 440.10(1)(e).  Workers’ compensation immunity has been held to be extremely expansive in this context and essentially provides workers’ compensation immunity for all contractors on the jobsite as long as the injured claimant is covered by any contractor’s workers’ compensation policy.  See Amorin v. Gordon, 996 So. 2d 913 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008) (an example of how expansive horizontal and vertical immunity during construction can be).

Read More…
02JUN 2018

A New Trigger for Florida’s Statute of Repose?

by Cole Copertino, Esq.

A new amendment to §95.11, Florida Statutes, may impact Construction Law in Florida.  The revision to §95.11(3)(c) was approved by Governor Rick Scott on March 23, 2018 upon the signing 2018 Fla. HB 875.  The amendment again aims to modify the Statute of Repose period for latent defect actions.  The Statute of Repose specifically time bars any action for latent defect arising out of the design, planning or construction of an improvement to real property based on a fixed time period.

Read More…
16MAY 2018

Duties of Defense and Indemnity in Construction Litigation: A Case Study

by Reinaldo Mouriz, Esq.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida recently issued an order in Morette Company v. Southern-Owners Insurance Company, [1] where the Court addressed whether an insurer, Southern-Owners Insurance Company (“Southern-Owners”), had duties to defend and indemnify various parties against state court claims for property damage due to allegedly defective work performed by two of its insured subcontractors, Etheridge Construction, Inc. (“Etheridge”) and Wallace Sprinkler & Supply, Inc. (“Wallace”). Morette Companybegan in August 2008, when Little Sabine, Inc. (“Sabine”), the developer and owner of Margaritaville, hired Morette Company, Inc. (“Morette”) as general contractor for the Margaritaville project. Morette subcontracted work to Etheridge and Wallace. The terms of the respective subcontracts required each subcontractor to defend and indemnify Morette for all damages claims “occasioned by” the subcontractor’s work and to reimburse Morette for all expenses incurred, including reasonable attorney’s fees, as a result of such claims.

Read More…
24APR 2018

The Importance of the Subcontractor Exception to the “Your Work” Exclusion

by John J. Kozak, Esq.

Commercial General Liability (CGL) policies typically include a “your work” exclusion, excluding coverage for “’property damage’ to ‘your work’ arising out of it or any part of it and included in the ‘products-completed operations hazard.’”  These CGL policies define “your work,” in pertinent part, as “work or operations performed by you or on your behalf.” Read More…

02APR 2018

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.

Read More…
15MAR 2018

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.

Read More…
25FEB 2018

Don’t Plead Your Pass-Through CD Claims Out of Coverage

by Ryan M. Charlson, Esq.

Failing to plead damage to other property, even in the face of record evidence supporting damage to other property, can result in a ruling that there is no duty to defend. In Florida, a commercial general liability (“CGL”) insurer’s duty to defend its insured is determined by examining whether the allegations in the complaint against Read More…

24JAN 2018

Construction Trial Success

by Daniel E. Levin, Esq.

We are pleased to congratulate Dan Levin and George Truitt on a very successful verdict in a three (3) week construction defect jury trial in Miami. The Plaintiff, a luxury high rise condominium association in the Williams Island section of Aventura, brought suit against the General Contractor and CSK’s client, a high performance coating applicator, Read More…

14JAN 2018

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.

Read More…
15DEC 2017

Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Ins. Co.

by John A. Chiocca, Esq.

The Florida Supreme Court issued its opinion in Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Ins. Co., Case No., SC16-1420, which answered the following certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit: Is the notice and repair process set forth in Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes a “suit’” Read More…