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    433 Meadow St
    Fairfield, CT 06824

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    20 Hartford Rd Suite 18
    Salem, CT 06420

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    2189 Silas Deane Highway
    Rocky Hill, CT 06067

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    110 Brook St
    Torrington, CT 06790

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    Building Consultant News and Information
    For Fairfield Connecticut


    Construction Payment Remedies: You May be Able to Skate by, But Why?

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    Corporate Profile

    FAIRFIELD CONNECTICUT BUILDING CONSULTANT
    DIRECTORY AND CAPABILITIES

    The Fairfield, Connecticut Building Consultant Group at BHA, leverages from the experience gained through more than 5,500 construction related expert witness designations encompassing a wide spectrum of construction related disputes. Drawing from this considerable body of experience, BHA provides construction related trial support and expert services to Fairfield's most recognized construction litigation practitioners, commercial general liability carriers, owners, construction practice groups, as well as a variety of state and local government agencies.

    Building Consultant News & Info
    Fairfield, Connecticut

    Ways of Evaluating Property Damage Claims in Various Contexts

    February 18, 2020 —
    Potential damages in a lawsuit may come in many forms depending on the facts of the case. Common damages include medical expenses, loss of earnings, property loss, physical pain, and mental suffering. Of the many damages Plaintiffs may claim, one of the most prevalent and recognizable is property damage. This article briefly discusses these types of damages which fall under two major categories – Real Property and Personal Property. Broadly speaking, “real property” means land, and “personal property” refers to all other objects or rights that may be owned. Ballentine’s Law Dictionary defines “real property” as: “Such things as are permanent, fixed, and immovable; lands, tenements, and hereditaments of all kinds, which are not annexed to the person or cannot be moved from the place in which they subsist. . . .” (Ballentine’s Law Dict. (3d ed. 2010).) “Personal property” is defined as: “Money, goods, and movable chattels . . . . All objects and rights which are capable of ownership except freehold estates in land, and incorporeal hereditaments issuing thereout, or exercisable within the same.” (Id. (emphasis added).) Real Property Real property may be damaged or “harmed” through trespass, permanent nuisance, or other tortious conduct. The general rule is that Plaintiffs may recover the lesser of the two following losses: (1) the decrease in the real property’s fair market value; or (2) the cost to repair the damage and restore the real property to its pre-trespass condition plus the value of any lost use. (Kelly v. CB&I Constructors, Inc.) However, an exception to this general rule may be made if a Plaintiff has a personal reason to restore the real property to its former condition, sometimes called the “personal reason” exception. In such cases, a Plaintiff may recover the restoration costs even if the costs are greater than the decrease in the real property’s value, though the restoration cost must still be “reasonable” in light of the value of the real property before the injury and the actual damage sustained. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Bremer Whyte Brown & O'Meara LLP

    Corporate Formalities: A Necessary Part of Business

    February 18, 2020 —
    Many benefits exist in choosing to create a corporation or limited liability company (“LLC”) as your business entity. However, what attracts most people to these entities is the protection they afford the business owner(s) against personal liability for the business’ obligations, debts, and other liabilities. Whatever reason prompts your decision to form a corporation or LLC, if you are like many smaller businesses, once the formation process is over its back to business as usual. However, in order to keep the protection against personal liability associated with a corporation or LLC, the business must engage in, what are known as corporate formalities. Corporate formalities are formal actions that must be taken by a corporation or LLC in order to maintain the benefits associated with that business entity. These corporate formalities may be required under California law, by the bylaws, and/or by the operating agreement of your business. When your business is formed as a corporation, many of the corporate formalities exist as part of California’s Corporations Code (“CCC”). These formalities include: (1) holding annual meetings (CCC § 600); (2) regularly electing directors (CCC § 301); (3) keeping meeting minutes (CCC § 1500); and (4) maintaining accurate corporate records (CCC § 1500). While these are only a few of the corporate formalities existing for corporations in the State of California, these formalities are often overlooked or put off by smaller businesses because they are either unknown to the business or are intended to be complied with later, as the actual running of the business takes priority. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of Hannah Kreuser, Porter Law Group
    Ms. Kreuser may be contacted at hkreuser@porterlaw.com

    Design-Build Contracting: Is the Shine Off the Apple?

    March 09, 2020 —
    The design-build delivery method offers many benefits to owners. Among the cited benefits are that projects are generally completed faster, at a lower cost, by allowing innovative approaches through early and continual contractor involvement in the design process. The design contractor serves as a single point of contact responsible for both the design and construction of the project. The Washington State Department of Transportation (“WSDOT”) utilized the design-build procurement method on the largest project ($2 billion) of its type in the state of Washington: the Highway 99 Tunnel, which was finished almost three years late after the tunnel-boring machine (“Bertha”) broke down six years ago. The sorted tale of the SR-99 Tunnel Project was the source of many of this firm’s blog articles.[1] The State of Washington staunchly maintained that the design-build contract protected its taxpayers from covering the repair costs to the tunnel-boring machine when it broke down in 2013. Bertha did not resume tunneling for almost two years, putting on hold removal of the Alaska Way viaduct and rebuilding of the Seattle Waterfront without an elevated highway. In December 2013, the contractor for the project, Seattle Tunnel Partners (“STP”), contended that a 110-foot long 8” steel pipe which Bertha hit caused the breakdown. That pipe had been installed for groundwater testing by WSDOT in 2002 during its preliminary engineering for the viaduct replacement project. The project’s Dispute Review Board (“DRB”) composed of three tunneling experts found that the pipe constituted a “differing site condition” for which the State was responsible to disclose to contractors. The Board, whose views were non-binding, did not opine about how much damage the undisclosed pipe cost.[2] In other words, the mere fact that a differing site condition occurred did not establish that there was a causal connection between the damages which STP was seeking (in excess of $600 million) and the differing site condition (the 8” steel pipe which WSDOT lawyers at trial derisively referred to as “nothing more than a toothpick for Bertha’s massive cutter head”). STP maintained that Bertha had made steady progress except for three days immediately after hitting the pipe. It didn’t help the contractors’ case that during the discovery phase of the two-month trial, WSDOT lawyers uncovered documents showing that the contractor’s tunnel workers encountered and logged the pipe before digging began.[3] Read the court decision
    Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of John P. Ahlers, Ahlers Cressman & Sleight PLLC
    Mr. Ahlers may be contacted at john.ahlers@acslawyers.com

    Georgia Supreme Court Addresses Anti-Indemnity Statute

    October 21, 2019 —
    In prior blog posts, we addressed Georgia’s anti-indemnity statute. One of the posts addressed the statute in the context of an electric utility easement near an airport. That case made its way to the Supreme Court Georgia, which provided some additional clarity to the statute. Milliken & Co. v. Georgia Power Co., — Ga. –, 829 S.E.2d 111 (2019). When a plane crashed and several passengers and crew died or were injured, their representatives sued several defendants, including a nearby plant owner, Milliken & Company (“Milliken”), based on claims that transmission lines on Milliken’s property were too close to the runways, were too high, and encroached on the airport easements. Milliken cross claimed against Georgia Power Company (“GPC”). Milliken’s claim was based on an easement it granted to GPC, which required GPC to indemnify it for any claims arising out of GPC’s construction or maintenance of the transmission lines. On appeal, the Supreme Court considered whether the clause was unenforceable under O.C.G.A. § 13-8-2(b). In general, “a party may contract away liability to the other party for the consequences of his own negligence without contravening public policy, except when such agreement it prohibited by statute.” Id. at 113 citing Lanier at McEver v. Planners & Eng’rs Collaborative, 284 Ga. 204, 205 (2008). As one such statute, O.C.G.A. § 13-8-2(b) applies when an indemnification provision (i) “relates in some way to a contract for construction, alteration, repair, or maintenance of certain property” and (ii) “promises to indemnify a party for damages arising from that own party’s sole negligence.” Id. at 114 (internal punctuation omitted). Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of David R. Cook, Autry, Hall & Cook, LLP
    Mr. Cook may be contacted at cook@ahclaw.com

    Partner Lisa M. Rolle and Associate Vito John Marzano Obtain Dismissal of Third-Party Indemnification Claims

    December 22, 2019 —
    On June 1, 2019, Traub Lieberman partner Lisa M. Rolle and associate Vito John Marzano successfully secured dismissal of all third-party claims on behalf of a corporate entity and its principal in a third-party action in the New York State Supreme Court, County of Bronx. The underlying action concerned a trip and fall that occurred on a public sidewalk located in the Bronx. Plaintiff commenced suit against the corporation property owner and its principal. Defendants/third-party plaintiffs commenced the third-party action seeking contractual and common-law indemnification against three third-party defendants, the corporate tenant, another corporate entity that was not a party to the lease and its principal. Traub Lieberman represented the latter two third-party defendants. On behalf of the corporate entity that was not a party to the lease, Traub Lieberman moved for dismissal on the basis that the lease constitutes documentary evidence establishing as a matter of law that the non-tenant corporation cannot be held liable to third-party plaintiffs. On behalf of the principal, Traub Lieberman sought dismissal for failure to state a cause of action because the principal was shielded from liability by virtue of having incorporated his business, and the complaint did not allege a claim for piercing the corporate veil. In opposition, third-party plaintiffs sought to amplify their pleadings by alleging that a de facto merger had occurred between the non-tenant corporation and the tenant corporation. Third-party plaintiffs further argued that the corporate principal executed a guaranty to the lease, thus accepting liability on behalf of the tenant corporation. Reprinted courtesy of Lisa M. Rolle, Traub Lieberman and Vito John Marzano, Traub Lieberman Ms. Rolle may be contacted at lrolle@tlsslaw.com Mr. Marzano may be contacted at vmarzano@tlsslaw.com Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of

    Be Proactive, Not Reactive, To Preserve Force Majeure Rights Regarding The Coronavirus

    March 30, 2020 —
    If you are involved in construction, NOW is the time to consider the potential force majeure impacts associated with the pandemic Coronavirus. Things are beginning to drastically change on a minute-by-minute basis. From travel restrictions, to the suspension or cancellation of events on an international level, to company-wide policies and restrictions, the global uncertainty has led to the possibility that a force majeure delay will occur. Thinking otherwise is not being proactive. The Coronavirus, and the impacts / delays associated therewith, is beyond anyone’s control. Due to the uncertainty, it is hard to fathom at this time a reasonable challenge to someone’s reaction to this concern or their companywide response to the concern.
      If you are a contractor, subcontractor, or even a supplier, my suggestions would be as follows:
    1. Revisit your contracts and see what type of force majeure language it has – anything relating to delays beyond your control or epidemics;
    2. Examine to see whether you have a basis for additional compensation AND additional time;
    3. Examine what type of notice you are required to provide for force majeure events;
    4. Be proactive – send notice now of the potentiality that this pandemic can impact / delay the job –no one should take offense to this letter as this pandemic has impacted all walks of life;
    5. If an impact occurs, send follow-up notice accordingly to ensure rights under the contract are preserved; and
    6. For future contracts, incorporate language that specifically addresses epidemics and pandemics now that the occurrence of this issue has become real.
    Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of David Adelstein, Kirwin Norris, P.A.
    Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dma@kirwinnorris.com

    Jobsite Safety Should Be Every Contractors' Priority

    December 09, 2019 —
    Any general contractor understands the range of factors that go into building and sustaining a successful jobsite: hiring the right team, maintaining cutting-edge equipment, ensuring constant communication with clients and effectively leveraging the newest building technologies, just to name a few. But any good general contractor understands that there is one factor that should always be considered as top priority: jobsite safety. The health and wellbeing of a project’s team is paramount for obvious reasons, and it isn’t a lighthearted matter. Injuries and fatalities have too often been a piece of our industry’s story. In 2017 alone, there were 971 reported deaths on construction sites, which accounted for 20% of total worker fatalities, according to a report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Of these 971 fatalities, 582 were the result of construction’s “fatal four”—falls, workers being struck by objects, electrocutions and workers being caught between equipment. For members of the industry, these are difficult numbers to read and to process; yet, it is extremely important to consider the injuries and lives lost when we take into consideration the seriousness of jobsite safety. Often, general contractors’ and superintendents’ greatest challenge isn’t being convinced of the necessity of jobsite safety practices in protecting employees or the value of safety in creating a productive work environment. Instead, the focus should be providing industry leaders tips on exactly how to improve safety measures on their own jobsites. Understanding that safety is everyone’s responsibility is paramount. Reprinted courtesy of Ray Reese, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved. Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of
    Mr. Reese may be contacted at rreese@rives.com

    The Utility of Arbitration Agreements in the Construction Industry

    December 30, 2019 —
    In today’s ever-evolving world of employment law, it is far from an easy task for construction industry employers to operate their business while successfully navigating all of the potential legal potholes that continue to abound and multiply seemingly with every passing day. This is particularly true in the face of the onslaught of claims lodged by current and former employees in recent years for alleged unpaid wages. While there may not be a “sure bet” way of avoiding such claims, one tool that employers should strongly consider in their arsenal are arbitration and class action waiver agreements. To that end, last year, the United States Supreme Court rendered its ground-breaking decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 584 U.S. ___ (2018). In Epic Systems, the Supreme Court held that arbitration agreements containing class and collective action waivers of wage and hour disputes are enforceable. At the time of the decision, a split of authority existed among courts across the country as to whether such agreements were viable. On the one hand, several courts contended that class waivers unfairly violated employees’ rights to collectively bargain under the National Labor Relations Act. On the other hand, many other courts were finding that such agreements were fully enforceable and supported by the policies promoted under the Federal Arbitration Act. The Epic Systems Court sided with this latter viewpoint, concluding that the FAA’s clear policy promoting arbitration as a dispute resolution mechanism and private parties’ rights to freely negotiate contracts outweighed any potential arguments against such agreements under the NLRA. With wage and hour lawsuits being filed against construction industry employers practically daily, the Epic Systems decision is critically important. Construction employers can now freely enter into arbitration and class waiver agreements with their laborers and thereby potentially limit the cost, expense and exposure of fighting such actions in a public forum on a collective or class-wide basis. To be clear, such agreements will not eliminate employees from bringing such wage and hour claims entirely, nor should the use of those agreements signal to employers that they need not make every good-faith effort to comply with their obligations under the Federal Labor Standards Act and/or any applicable state wage and hour laws. But the reality is that arbitration and class waiver agreements can work to avoid tens or hundreds or even thousands of employees from banding together in some of the massive wage and hour lawsuits being filed across the country. Instead, employers can require that those legal battles be conducted by a single plaintiff in a more controlled environment before an arbitrator (or panel of arbitrators). Reprinted courtesy of Brian L. Gardner & Jason R. Finkelstein, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved. Mr. Gardner may be contacted at bgardner@coleschotz.com Mr. Finkelstein may be contacted at jfinkelstein@coleschotz.com Read the court decision
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    Reprinted courtesy of