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Florida Construction Law News

04AUG 2017

Survival of the Independent Tort Doctrine after the Florida Supreme Court’s Limitation of the Economic Loss Rule

by Ryan M. Charlson, Esq.

The independent tort doctrine is a prohibition against tort actions that are calculated to recover solely economic damages for one in contractual privity with another. In other words, the doctrine is intended to prevent parties to a contract from circumventing the allocation of losses set forth in a contract by bringing an action for economic loss in tort.

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10JUL 2017

Latest Blower Door Regulations Now Effective

by Ryan M. Charlson, Esq.

As part of Florida’s increasing efforts to achieve energy efficiency in new construction, changes have been made to the methodology of measuring dwelling air leakage and tolerable measurements. In June 2015, the Florida Legislature amended Section 553.998, Florida Statutes, to require additional testing for newly constructed buildings to verify air leakage figures. Residential construction must now undergo a Mandatory Residential Air Infiltration (“Blower Door”) Test. Florida companies were granted a two-year “grace period” to allow the construction industry to prepare and plan for the changes, which became effective on July 1, 2017.

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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.

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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?”

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31JAN 2017

Holding the Bag for Pre-Tender Defense Costs

by John J. Kozak, Esq.

For a variety of reasons, additional insureds (and even named insureds) under commercial general liability policies will sometimes wait months, and even years, to tender the defense of a claim or lawsuit, incurring significant legal fees in the interim. When the claim finally is tendered, a dispute often arises over who should pay the pre-tender defense costs. Surprisingly, there is very little Florida legal authority specifically dealing with this issue. However, the recent federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case of EmbroidMe.com, Inc. v. Travelers Property Casualty Co. of America, No. 14-10616, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 368 (11th Cir. Jan. 9, 2017), applying Florida law, addresses the issue head-on and provides CGL carriers with a large hammer in refusing to pay pre-tender fees.

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06JAN 2017

The Importance of Notice Requirements in a Claims-Made Policy

by Felipe L. Meija, Esq.

The Southern District of New York recently made the importance of notice requirements in a claims-made policy abundantly clear.[1] Generally, there are two kinds of insurance policies: (1) claims-made; and (2) occurrence. The Florida Supreme Court defines an occurrence policy as “a policy in which coverage is effective if the negligent act or omission occurs within the policy period, regardless of the date of discovery or the date the claim is made or asserted.”[2] Conversely, its definition of a claims-made policy is a “policy wherein the coverage is effective if the negligent or omitted act is discovered and brought to the attention of the insurer within the policy term.”[3] The fundamental difference between the two forms of insurance is that under a claims-made policy, it does not matter when a negligent or omitted act actually took place. The important date is the date on which “a claim”[4] concerning the negligent or omitted act is made. The essence of a claims-made policy “is notice to the carrier within the policy period.”[5]

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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.

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05NOV 2016

Florida Professional Engineers – Recent Administrative Code Changes Regarding Engineering Documents

by Ryan M. Charlson, 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.

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02OCT 2016

Stealthy Arbitration Clauses In(Deed)

by Jennifer E. Lulgjuraj, Esq.

Subcontractors beware — the “boilerplate” arbitration clauses in those standard-form subcontracts used by large scale homebuilders may be broader, and ultimately more costly, than you realize. It is not unusual for a builder to require a homebuyer to arbitrate construction defect claims. Likewise, it is not unusual for a builder to include within its standard-form Read More…