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Tag Archives: construction defect trial

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

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.”

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The Burden of Betterment

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.

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Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Ins. Co.

The Florida Supreme Court issued its opinion in Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Ins. Co., Case No., SC16-1420, which answered the following certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit: Is the notice and repair process set forth in Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes a “suit’” Read More…

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The Importance of Contractual Protections Requiring Notice and Opportunity to Cure

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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Stealthy Arbitration Clauses In(Deed)

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…

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Construction Law Trial Win: Complete Defense Verdict in Seven Day Jury Trial

The Florida law firm of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. is pleased to announce that two of its construction lawyers (George Truitt and Greg Willis) obtained a complete defense verdict in a seven day jury trial in Miami-Dade County. Cole, Scott & Kissane P.A. represented a geotechnical engineer who was sued for professional malpractice by Read More…

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Construction Law Trial Win: Complete Defense Verdict in Nine-Week Construction Defect Trial

The Florida law firm of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. is pleased to announce that two of its construction lawyers (George Truitt and Dan Levin) obtained a complete defense verdict in a hotly-contested construction defect case after nine weeks of trial. The trial commenced on May 10, 2013, and finished on August 2, 2013.

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