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Florida Construction Law News

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?”

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.

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.

17AUG 2016

Eleventh Circuit Considers Whether the Chapter 558 Process Is a “Suit”

by Matan A. Scheier, Esq.

Recently, in Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Ins. Co., the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed an issue of first impression.[1] In Altman, the Eleventh Circuit evaluated whether an insurer has a duty to defend and indemnify an insured who receives a Notice of Claim pursuant to Chapter 558, Florida Statutes (“Notice of Claim”). The Southern District of Florida previously ruled that a Notice of Claim did not constitute a suit, and thus, does not trigger a duty to defend and indemnify. The insured then appealed that ruling to the Eleventh Circuit, which ruled that the terms “suit” and “civil proceeding,” as found in the subject Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance policies, may be ambiguous as used in the policies.[2] Due to important public policy considerations, the Eleventh Circuit certified the following question to the Florida Supreme Court: “Is the notice and repair process set forth in Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes a ‘suit’ within the meaning of the GCL policies issued by C&F to ACI?”[3]

14JAN 2015

11th Circuit Finds No Coverage for Shipbuilder under Marine Engineering Firm’s A&E Policy

by Christie Bredahl

On December 24, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit published an opinion finding no coverage for a shipbuilder under a marine engineering firm’s Architect’s and Engineer’s professional liability insurance policy.  Atlantic Marine Florida, LLC, et al. v. Evanston Ins. Co., et al., No. 13-11342 (to view the opinion please click Read More…

25APR 2013

Design Professional Limitation of Liability Law Approved by Governor

by Christie Bredahl

The Design Professional Limitation of Liability Act, that we have been following and discussing here and here, outlined in the version of SB 286 that ultimately passed both the Senate and House has been approved by Governor Scott.  Governor Scott signed the act on April 25th.  The act creates § 558.0035, Florida Statute, and will Read More…

22APR 2013

CSK’s Capitol Report – Update on the Design Professional Limitation of Liability Bills

by Christie Bredahl

As we have previously posted, we have been closely monitoring Senate Bill (“SB”) 286 and House Bill (“HB”) 575, which have moved quickly through their respective committees and chambers with little opposition.  On March 27, 2013, the Senate passed SB 286 by a 37 to 1 vote.  SB 286 was then substituted in place of HB Read More…

04MAR 2013

CSK’s Capitol Report – Senate Bill 286; House Bill – 575

by Christie Bredahl

Florida’s 2013 Legislative session kicks off tomorrow, Tuesday March 5, 2013. This legislative session, CSK’s Construction Law Division is closely following Senate Bill (“SB”) 286 titled Design Professionals and its identical companion bill in the House, House Bill (“HB”) 575.  Both bills were introduced and filed in January of 2013.  The bills intend to alter the Read More…

10DEC 2012

The “Fiscal Cliff” and the Construction Industry

by CSK Construction Group

After a spirited election season and as we wind down toward the end of the year, the elected officials in Washington D.C. are in the midst of a strong debate regarding the tax increases and budget cuts that will begin in 2013.  Although the impact is largely debatable, discussions about the “fiscal cliff” are rampant Read More…

28SEP 2012

CSK Trial Win

by CSK Construction Group

George Truitt and Daniel Levin recently defended an architect and his firm against a claim by a homeowner relating to the design of the HVAC system in an 8,000 square foot, custom home on the Intracoastal Waterway in Miami, Florida.  The owner claimed that the system was deficiently designed so that it was not able Read More…