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Florida Construction Law News

01OCT 2018

Chapter 558, Commencing an Action, and the Statute of Repose

by Robert L. Newsom, Esq.

Prior to the Fourth District Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Robert Gindel, et al. v. Centex Homes, et al., 43 Fla. L. Weekly D2112d (Fla. 4th DCA Sept. 12, 2018), Florida courts had not directly addressed the issue of whether the mandatory pre-suit notice for construction defects under Chapter 558 qualifies as an “action,” pursuant to the statute of repose in Chapter 95.

Gindel v. Centex is a construction defect case for damages arising from the alleged improper construction of townhomes. On March 31, 2004, the Homeowners closed on and took possession of the townhomes constructed by Centex and its subcontractors. On that date, the statute of repose, section 95.11(3)(c), Florida Statutes (2014), began to run as to any construction defect, the expiration of which was ten years later. After discovering the alleged defect, on February 6, 2014, the Homeowners provided the Chapter 558 requisite pre-suit notice of defect to Centex. At the conclusion of the mandatory pre-suit procedure, Centex declined to cure the alleged defect. The Homeowners filed suit on May 2, 2014.

02AUG 2018

CSK Attorney Ryan M. Charlson Earns Board Certification in Construction Law

by Joseph R. Marzilli, Esq.

Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. (“CSK”) is pleased to announce that Attorney Ryan M. Charlson has been recognized by The Florida Bar as a Board Certified Specialist in Construction Law. According to The Florida Bar, Board Certification is the highest level of evaluation of competency and experience within an area of law, as well as professionalism and ethics in practice. Board Certified Specialists are required to possess a minimum level of relevant experience and undergo a rigorous examination process to demonstrate their competency in specific areas of the law.

01JUL 2018

Inspected, Accepted and Protected: Recent Appellate Decision Reinforces Breadth of the Slavin Defense

by Brian J. Aull, Esq.

In a recent decision, Valiente v. R.J. Behar & Company, Inc., 43 Fla. L. Weekly D1277c (Fla. 3d DCA June 6, 2018), Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal (“Third District”) upheld the entry of a summary judgment in favor of a contractor on the basis of acceptance of the work by the owner, fortifying use of the Slavin doctrine. In Florida, “[u]nder the Slavin doctrine, a contractor cannot be held liable for injuries sustained by third parties when the injuries occur after the contractor completed its work, the owner of the property accepted the contractor’s work, and the defects causing the injury were patent.”

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.

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…

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…

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.

10DEC 2016

The Importance of Contractual Protections Requiring Notice and Opportunity to Cure

by Todd A. Macleod, Esq.

We have previously discussed the intent of Chapter 558, Florida Statutes, which is to provide parties with opportunities to avoid the commencement of litigation by providing a mechanism for them to enter into discussions through pre-suit notices of claim. Among other things, Chapter 558 requires the notice of claim to “identify the location of each alleged construction defect sufficiently to enable the responding parties to locate the alleged defect without undue burden.” However, contractors can further protect themselves from the commencement of litigation without inadequate notice by requiring notice of alleged defects, as well as the opportunity to cure those defects, as a matter of contract.

04SEP 2016

CSK Attorney Clay Whittaker Earns Board Certification in Construction Law

by David S. Harrigan, Esq.

Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. (“CSK”) is pleased to announce that Attorney Clay Whittaker has been recognized by the Florida Bar as a Board Certified Specialist in Construction Law. According to the Florida Bar, Board Certification is the highest level of evaluation of competency and experience within an area of law, as well as professionalism and Read More…