Florida’s 2015 Legislative session kicks off on Tuesday March 3, 2015. This Legislative session CSK’s Construction Law Division is closely tracking the following bills:
• House Bill (“HB”) 87 titled Construction Defect Claims and a similar bill, Senate Bill (“SB”) 418; and
• HB 501 titled Limitations of Actions.
These bills, if passed, will impact the industry. This post focuses on HB 87 and SB 418. A separate post will be dedicated to HB 501.
HB 87 and SB 418 propose to make drastic changes to Chapter 558, Florida Statutes, Florida’s “Notice and Opportunity to Cure.” The proposed amendments in the bills are backed by the Associated General Contractors of America. The notable proposed amendments in the bills seek to:
• Revise the legislative intent outlined in §558.001 to expressly allow insurers to participate in confidential settlement negotiations prior to suit in an effort to resolve a claim.
• Include in the definition of “completion of building or improvement” outlined in §558.002 (as well as in §718.203 and §719.203 regarding warranties), issuance of a temporary certificate of occupancy that allows for occupancy or use of the entire building or improvement.
• Set forth additional requirements in §558.004(1)(b) for a notice of claim including requiring the identification of the specific location of each alleged construction defect and the identification of the specific provisions of the building code, project plans, project drawings, project specifications or other authority that serve as the basis of the claim. The proposed amendment goes on to state that the failure to include the foregoing required information in the notice of claim is prima facie evidence of a defective notice of claim.
• Revise §558.004(13) to deem any action involving a claim previously resolved by the payment of money, by making repairs or by a combination thereof as frivolous and requiring an award of monetary sanctions against the claimant.
• Add subsection (16) to §558.004 to allow monetary sanctions for costs incurred if an alleged construction defect identified in the notice of claim was solely the fault of the claimant or its agents. The costs awarded may include costs of inspection, investigation, testing, related costs and attorney fees.
In their current forms, the bills provide an effective date of October 1, 2015.
To date, HB 87 has already started moving during the pre-session meetings. The House Civil Justice Subcommittee unanimously passed HB 87 on February 4, 2015. HB 87 is now in the House Business & Professions Subcommittee. It has also been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. SB 418 has been referred to the Senate’s Fiscal Policy, Regulated Industries, and Banking and Insurance Committees.
We intend to continually track these bills through session and will update this blog with news, votes, amendments, and potential implications concerning these bills. Please check back frequently for more information concerning HB 87 and SB 418, as well as HB 501.