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 damages exceeded $28,000,000.00. The Circuit Court in and for Miami-Dade County (the “Court”) granted the Motion and entered judgment on the pleadings as to the general contractor’s professional negligence claim against the threshold inspector.
The crux of the Motion was based on the rule that design professionals generally do not owe duties to protect parties with whom they are not in privity of contract from purely economic losses. The authority relied upon centered around AR Moyer, Inc. v. Graham, 285 So. 2d 397, 402 (Fla. 1973) and Spancrete, Inc. v. Ronald E. Frazier & Associates, P.A., 630 So. 2d 1197 (Fla. 3d DCA 1994). In AR Moyer, Florida’s Supreme Court carved out an exception to this general rule in situations where the design professional has supervisory authority over the general contractor tantamount to the power of life and death over the project. In Spancrete, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals held that an architect’s power to inspect and reject work does not constitute the supervisory control sufficient to satisfy the AR Moyer exception. Continue reading
Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A. (“CSK”), is pleased to announce another significant win after a three and one-half week jury trial in Key West, Florida, where George Truitt, Esq., and Daniel Levin, Esq., defended a general contractor (the “Contractor”) in a suit filed by a condominium association (the “Association”). In 2007 and 2008, the Contractor replaced the oceanside balconies for two of the buildings at the condominium. Less than four years later, the Association removed and replaced the balconies again. In the suit, the Association claimed that the design and construction of the balconies was defective, and that as a result, the Association sustained the following damages: loss of rental revenue; loss of use; repair costs; and additional living expenses. The trial was bifurcated, and only liability for causing the alleged damages was tried. In discovery, the Association claimed more than $4.5 million dollars in compensatory and special damages, attorneys’ fees, costs, and interest.
The theme of the Association’s case was that the Contractor, which was experienced with concrete restoration, had “the keys to the car,” was in control of the engineers who were hired to define, inspect, and accept its work, and was cozy with the local building official who, therefore, did not inspect the construction as closely as he would have otherwise. According to the Association’s theme, given these “fishy” circumstances, the Contractor was able to replace the balconies so defectively that the balconies were a life safety danger when completed.
CSK’s theme of the case was that that two project managers and a superintendent, two sets of engineers, and the building official had to be wrong in order for the Association’s expert to be right. CSK attacked the expert’s credibility by: (1) showing that his firm misunderstood the structural balcony design, then covered up the mistake by misleading the building official; (2) identifying supposed life safety cracks in the units that were anywhere from three and one-half to thirteen and one-half years old that the expert had not directed to be shored up; (3) failing to identify any deflection cracks on the balconies; and (4) having a financial interest in exaggerating his forensic opinions to make more money on the remedial design and construction and as an expert witness. Continue reading