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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.

05NOV 2016

Florida Professional Engineers – Recent Administrative Code Changes Regarding Engineering Documents

by Robert A. Crabill, Esq.

Engineers in Florida are subject to a comprehensive regulatory scheme enacted by the Florida Legislature with further regulations implemented by the Florida Board of Professional Engineers. Professional engineers have a legal (and professional) obligation to remain apprised of any changes in the laws and rules in order to ensure compliance with the latest regulations. Recently, the Florida Board of Professional Engineers enacted changes to the Rule governing the Minimum Requirements for Engineering Documents that will impact its engineer-licensees in their Florida practices.

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]

16MAY 2016

Complex Business Litigation Court Upholds Design Professional’s Duty Defense under AR Moyer, Post-Tiara

by David Salazar, Esq.

David Salazar, Esq., a partner in Cole, Scott & Kissane’s (“CSK’s”) Construction Group, recently filed and argued a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (the “Motion”) on behalf of a threshold inspector in a complex, multi-party construction lawsuit. The general contractor on the project sued CSK’s client for, among other things, professional negligence. The claimed Read More…

18DEC 2015

Proposed Legislation on Statute of Repose: Clarifying that the Statute Runs from Completion of Performance

by Christie Bredahl

As Florida’s 2016 Legislative Session approaches, two companion bills have been introduced – Senate Bill (“SB”) 316 and House Bill (“HB”) 297.  These bills seek to address the interpretation and application of the statute of repose set forth in § 95.11(3)(c), Florida Statutes. Intended to impose finality on the availability of claims for latent defects, the statute Read More…

01APR 2015

Recent Revisions to Dewatering and Stormwater Generic Permits

by Dean O. Meyers, Esq.

The flow of construction stormwater legislation and rulemaking from Washington D.C. and Tallahassee has been steady in recent years.  With another construction boom underway in many parts of the state, stakeholders must remain vigilant of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“FDEP”) regulations governing construction dewatering and stormwater runoff promulgated in February of 2015.

19JAN 2015

CSK APPELLATE CONSTRUCTION WIN

by David S. Harrigan, Esq.

We are pleased to announce another significant appellate victory for Cole, Scott, & Kissane P.A.’s Appellate Practice Group.  Scott Cole, Esq. and George Truitt, Esq. obtained an affirmance of a complete defense verdict in favor a traffic engineer in a wrongful death case arising from a tragic motor vehicle accident at a signalized intersection that resulted in the death of Read More…

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…